Two Poems—Amy Wolstenholme


First, when I am a blue-veined old woman with a raven
tame on my shoulder, I will call myself Calleich, goddess of winter.  
I will call on the storms, laugh at pedestrians scowling, wonder 
why women still hide beneath colour // men under black, 
why gender umbrellas? I will say to the rain, which was never he // she
but simply us, tilt my face to the sky and wonder how many 
recycled lives this drop has passed through, until mine. 
Later, when I am middle-aged and merely a goddess, I will race 
to catch a bus in the half-light, get laughed at by teenagers when 
the door closes two paces further. The sun will be out-blazed
by the petrol in the gutter and I will stand, mesmerised by oil, 
sweating the make-up off my face. The death of the Earth 
is sometimes beautiful, I’ll say // guilty about not feeling guilty.
When it rains I’ll duck in my collar, watch the rainbow shudder
(dissipate). Later still, I am twenty-two and barely a woman, 
I stand one evening and realise I don’t believe in God anymore // 
go to a graveyard to think on it, kiss someone in a club 
for the taste of gin // try to approximate a heart breaking. 
Walking home, after failing to keep our sweating hands
aligned, I was a sprawling child who said I wish I could do magic
pointed a stick to the clouds and thought hard about striking 
light. The sky stayed sloe-blue and only drizzled this time,
as the foundling finally cried beneath the blackthorn hedge. 
The moon swung down or up, full and ripe. Now you must 
put out a hand and pluck it, stolen in your back-pocket, lonely
as the ten-pence you one day leave behind on a bus. Call 
me girl if you must // I never knew how to say: It’s time.

Now I dream of you

and this I know, there is always a girl in a black cloak standing somewhere
on a white hill. What we cannot know is why she points skywards, 
why her beckoning cloak suddenly becomes wings. Perhaps this is only me, 
writing terror from the wrong-end, through the lens of sleep she is simply asking 
why. I would say it has something (a little) to do with flight, how feathered things 
are tethered not by gravity, but the wind. 
(Come, let us think no more of this, the moon is brief and beautiful.)
The winged-girl is pointing to the sky; we cannot know why she is crying. 
This night is crystalline and curved, I would say undisturbed 
but there is always a way to shake the sphere of a dream-world. 
The snow violently returns to air, falls pale again. Tethered by the hand 
we begin (or end) by wayfaring, girls like us easily taken from the land. 
When I am asleep, I tell her, I wake in thought of you
Suddenly we are moved to a great distance; two stick-women reaching. 
Perhaps there is something addictive to a dream pointing back, dreaming of you. 
I hang, even-breathed and bloodless, cloaked in my duvet of snow. 
This is a crime, she says, (I know) the only words she owns are mine. I cannot 
apologise – trapping her (myself) the only love I know how to give.
She holds out a candle, I hold her briefly 
alive. Love, I say, pinch out this small, false light. 
(The moon is beautiful and brief.)
I wake with the vision of her silhouette, rooted to the dark-side. 
My love, when I am gone does your world shake to nothing 
or do you still reach out a hand to catch the snow? 
I would say, this she knows. It hurts a little 
(something) like this. 

 Amy Wolstenholme is a scientist by day and a poet by night, originally from the beautiful Jurassic Coast. Whether slicing up a genome or carving out a stanza, her work comes from a place of awe and love for the natural world. Her recent work can also be found in Magma and in several places on the Young Poets Network. To see more of her work find her at @AmyWolstenholm3 on Twitter.

photo by Nick Fewings (via unsplah)