Three Poems—Julia Retkova

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Chance Meeting

He cups a handful of my hair and looks surprised when it drips down from his hand in spirals of sea water. You’re walking far, far, beneath and 
it always burns to breath in crystallised salts. 
In the deepness born of the shock of it
you watch them unfold: the blinding light of all things primordial.
Memories breathing, blooming, nestled tight 
in the very depths of your skull.

He tells me how terror can make a home in the hollows of our collarbones,
how it settles in, shivers in time with the heartbeat,
furls further inside each pearl of concave darkness.

I wash my bedsheets in bleach,
over, and over, and over. 
The finality of it, unnoticed


and so—prayers crushed to lips like
petals, boiled, turning sharp to rose-water.
Shivers in crushed diamonds. The smell, overpowering. Blinding.

A fumigation of all 
that is heady, thick. Foaming fumes of smoke
to choke and burn in the crackling 
of chest bones, in the roar of rose-water 
rivers. To look up from beneath all that was promised–
what do you see? To look up as the sky heaves, as it bursts 
open with the scent of burned fuchsia. It will hold the words 
tight and savage between its teeth. Open 
your mouth, darling, and the burn 
will be as promised: tongue slicing bright along the fountains of stars.


The fabric of the night seemed to split apart for a moment. I thought, morning is here, but when I looked out the streets were empty and dark and clocks were stuck. 
    It builds slowly:  During the day there are too many but now— now there is space, and you
                breathe in, and your very lungs tremble and shake their little fists up at the sky.

Excisions in the heavy blackness that sits in the corners of your room
A silence frozen over with ringing.

Julia is a King’s College London graduate student with two degrees in Literature and Digital Studies: she’s currently working on her dissertation while running a small literary journal. She was born in Ukraine, but grew up in the south of Spain. She loves reading in the sun and writing when everyone’s asleep.

photo by Viktor Talashuk and Jairo Alzate (via unsplash)