Poem by Laura Potts

The Wise Child

I remember he fled from the fogdrop moors with the dawn
and the bells of December beyond, calling morning to the streets
while winter wept beneath the trees. A sleeping me before the door
glowed on behind my mother’s knees. With holly-forest at his feet

from leaping long the brawling leas, he brought the loss of blossom-blush
to fall upon the breeze: he the keeper of the keys to all our stars and
northern storms, who never knew that news he bore would bruise the husk
of heart and more, poured a prayer into the pram and handed up a telegram.

Pass the years upon the land, a scrap of shying light I am. My splash
of laughter never sang the spring to swing me in its arms, ever since
that winter when my eyes lost all their stars. Oh father in the terrace dark,
that vast cathedral of your heart never called a patch of moon to squint

a light into our room, when looming in the corners slept the soldiers
in the gloom. I saw the sun forever as a wet and sunken wound, and knew
the black that cooked the blue when I was only two. And you? The colder
soul that spat the gas to phantoms that would never pass, who blew

the saplings ribbon-black and burst the buds beneath your tracks, would
always be my father but never once my dad. Last and ever after that, here
where War had torn us sore and mauled our bruises black, I heard
the chant of thousands calling to the stars and back: for all the years

and eras came that postboy down the path. He always was, perhaps,
and is; and leapt until we lost him to the dying mouth of mist.

The Wise Child by Laura Potts was highly commended in the sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2018) judged by Mandy Pannett.

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