Two Poems—Becki Hawkes

Cold spell

Today we are having the talk
about witches.
We go to the woods

and stand under the tree
with the leaves that make me think
of brimstone butterflies, all restless green gold for go – 

or scuffed and crushed into mud.

You tell me again
about things you have done to witches
about the things they have done to you

and I tell you the story
that ends with a burning, about how I stood in a crowd

and let ash lick my skin, tender as snow, as I watched
a woman disintegrate

how not one of us said a word.

It’s been raining
and water falls through holly and webbed grey air
on to my head, your chest, our guilty arms.

We shiver, huddle close. We both know
that soon these woods will be white, too quiet
for excuses or amends.

We are ready now
for a cold spell, for a winter death.

our own witch listens in, has been listening in for years,
her long wet ears curled round lungwort and crowded parchment

her fingers puffy and soft-gilled, primed
to curse us, smother us, tear off our limbs –

but hesitating
(heart’s red peeled bark)

itching to let us both live.

Medium uncool

Did that glass just move? My trusting fingers 
patch you through 
as you tease, trick, treat 

me to an ‘s’ 
for silence
an endless, answerless ‘y’. I’ve fallen

in love
through so many screens, sometimes suspect

I’ve loved only screens, the words
appearing like the answers to a spell:

crafted and double-edged, not always
what I had in heart. One summer

I danced all night, strained my arms
to the high country window, desperate
for a single bar, for the start of our song

but of course
your part was noteless. Like most ghosts

you have your own times:
your clouded Piccadilly Line mornings
your sleeping Tuesday afternoons

your trees like wet veins 
in the six pm lamplight.

I’m frightened 

not of you, but of a world without you:
your half-words haunt me.

I need to keep checking you exist.

Becki Hawkes lives and works in London, and has had poems published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Shore, Rust + Moth, Brittle Star, Pulp Poets Press, Little Stone Journal, Lunate Fiction, Wrongdoing Magazine and Perhappened. Her Twitter is @BeckiH_678.

photo by Faye Cornish (via unsplash)

Between the trees—Becki Hawkes

After they were finished 
they left me in the woods 

and there are only trees now: 
white birches owl brown grooves between 

each pathway out 
a passage further in 

some days 
I am so hungry I eat the scared things the velvet
skin the inquisitive mammalian skulls 

their outraged little hearts flicker 
against the roof of my mouth 
pulse in my gullet sleep in my acid 

floppy crops of mushrooms 
tug in all my torn holes bleed
weakly when I pluck them out 

and I am a hut 
on tensed yellow chicken feet 
an oven that yawns with bones 

other days 
I turn cunning snout out 
the cool forest berries 

splatter my rose and nipples 
with their juice 

let my lips grow fat 

them all back in: the lost prince 
the huntsman the handsome wolf 

most don’t make it 
and those that do 
say that they were lucky 

but there is no luck 
there is only me now 

scabbed and crowned in lichen 

only I decide

Becki Hawkes is a writer, communications worker and former arts journalist from London. She has had poems published in magazines including Ink Sweat and Tears and Trouvaille Review, and short plays performed in various small theatre locations.

photo by Elisa (via unsplash)