I wrapped my heart in a cotton shroud,
I wound my heart in a silk cocoon,
I gave my heart to the carrion crows
who flew my heart to a lace day moon.
The moon sank into a bruise-tinged haze,
my heart slipped into the cold cold waves.
The current twisting from flow to ebb
carried my heart away away.
I trapped my sorrow behind panes of glass,
I hid my body in a pinewood shed,
I pooled my tears for marygold drink,
I stifled my sobs in spider webs.
But a money-spinner comforted me,
crawled my hand as I scrawled my hurt,
taught my lament to the screaming gulls,
scattered my anguish to pecking culvers.
I will bathe my face in the morning dew,
I will pinch off fear to feed crane flies,
I will sprinkle self-pity along the shingle,
skimming pebbles as anger dives.
My skin will absorb a radiant sunset,
my body will bask in crepuscular rays,
I will wade in the shallows when cats’ paws thrill,
I will dance with the moon’s corona display.
My heart will return when autumn is dead,
once winter is sifted and spring has sprung,
my heart will stir in its shrouding cocoon,
bloody my body, release my tongue.
My heart will return as a cormorant
lumbering silently over the sea,
oiled and preened and cruciate,
embracing others and saving me.
by Nancy Charley
The Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Competition, judged this year by award-winning poet Helen Mort, is open for entries! Poems are welcomed from writers of 18 years or over in the following two categories: English as an Additional Language and Open category. First Prize in both categories is £1000, with £200 for Second. The competition is open for submissions until 11pm GMT on 28 August 2017. Visit our website for more details.
‘A Song of Hibernation’ is copyright © Nancy Charley, 2017. It is reprinted from Little Blue Hut (Smokestack Books, 2017) by permission of Smokestack.
Notes from Smokestack:
In 2011 Nancy Charley spent six weeks in a little blue beach hut on Tankerton Slopes, near Whitstable on the Kent coast, recording the changing tides and shifting moods of the shingle beach. Little Blue Hut is a book about weather and water, bladderwrack and gutweed, swimmers, dog-walkers and sea-anglers, cormorants and blackheaded gulls, ‘resident birds’ and ‘transient people’. And always the horizon where sky merges with sea. In the first half of the book the Water-Watcher tells her tale, exploring the mysteries and the ‘bizarreries’ of the Thames Estuary and finding, like a beachcomber, myth and poetry in the rarely noticed details of everyday life. In the second half of the book a woman is summoned by the three female genii of the coast – Luna, Marina and Hertha. Helped by the birds, she discovers who she might be, whilst berthed in the safety of the Little Blue Hut. You can read more about the book on the Smokestack website.
Nancy Charley works as an archivist for the Royal Asiatic Society. Her first pamphlet, This Woman, was published in 2012. She lives in Ashford, Kent.
Smokestack is an independent publisher of radical and unconventional poetry run by Andy Croft. Smokestack aims to keep open a space for what is left of the English radical poetic tradition in the twenty-first century. Smokestack champions poets who are unfashionable, radical, left-field and working a long way from the metropolitan centres of cultural authority. Smokestack is interested in the World as well as the Word; believes that poetry is a part of and not apart from society; argues that if poetry does not belong to everyone it is not poetry. Smokestack’s list includes books by John Berger, Michael Rosen, Katrina Porteous, Ian McMillan, Steve Ely, Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Gustavo Pereira (Venezuela), Heinrich Heine (Germany), Andras Mezei (Hungary), Yiannis Ritsos (Greece) and Victor Jara (Chile). You can find Smokestack on Facebook and on Twitter.
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