Two Poems—Jane Ayres

split ends: another grim fairytale but this one involves blue cake

when dreams become poems 
become dreams / carving cruel holes in space 
a breathless narrative is written in the blood of ravens
too many oughts & shoulds / untangling clenched grief 
poisoned lullabies uncoiled / did he make me? 
a haunted question to which she keeps returning 

hiding things in cellars was supposed to make her forget 
but she cannot unknow what he did / they did
secrets unravelling / so she takes sharp scissors
cuts her sleeping sister’s long hair / & as soft tendrils spiral
drop oh-so-lightly / kissing the mossy carpet
it’s like shedding blossoms / or stripping leaves from rust-red trees 
flayed bark left hanging in strips / eviscerated tree skin
a warning

she divides shimmering crimson locks into two piles
scatters half outside for the ravens to take 
for noble nests / an apology
for they have never showed unkindness

the remaining newly shorn tresses
she chops finely with a butcher’s knife
crushing the ends with a heavy bone-handle
sprinkling into lavender flour / pre-mixed with sticky sugar 
the yolks of three salamander eggs / adds seven measured drops 
of rotted inky essence / a twist of bluebell root / a shot of vanilla syrup
to make his favourite blue-scented morality cake 
you’re worth it 
his voice wrapping her into bitter silence
she can still feel his lies dripping on her tongue
doesn’t blame her sister / not entirely
after all they share 
a beating heart / bones that fracture 
too easily

Samson wrongly believed his strength resided in his hair 
like some magical testosterone-impregnated super-power
but she knows hair is just stuff our bodies grow
even after death
& Rapunzel managed without hers 
although it wasn’t easy
but it was worth it in the end

she will tell her sister’s tears there is green in everything
if you look closely enough


don’t be scared
it won’t hurt (much)
well maybe a little
sometimes (mostly)

letting you in
the December day floats
fingering an absence 
               of sharp frostbitten objects
kissing it better
i visit those snow-touched places
the morning after

letting this tongue 
shadow feathers
smoothing a whisper 
               of fragile spider-sobs
the arctic sickness 

every time
every room
every other

being unmade

UK based neurodivergent writer Jane Ayres completed a Creative Writing MA at the University of Kent in 2019 aged 57. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net 2021 and can be found in places including Lighthouse, Streetcake, The North, Acropolis Journal, Selcouth Station, Sledgehammer and The Forge. As one of the winners of the 2021 Laurence Sterne Prize, her first collection edible will be published by Beir Bua Press in April 2022.  Jane tweets at @workingwords50.

photo by Corina Rainer (via unsplash)