Megan Watkins

megan watkins

Megan Watkins

Land

The child tripped
on his rope, and fell awkwardly,
look what you made me do
he said, to the mullet grey sky
and the sea they were trying

to reach, to run away
from. His eye looked green,
from seaweed or glass
and gristle hurt
in the hollow of his knee.

The others walked ahead
in a row, their flags hung down
like human skins and he followed
diagonally through the trees,
throwing stones and missing-

bone, he counted,
marrow, giblets, guillotine.

The imagined woman can’t defend herself

I woke before the bell
in one of the work tents.
Sometimes, after a dream, I still
hear my watch, the splinters
of gold under glass clicking,
far away as rain on a roof
or rattling trams –

then I can’t move until I remember
or he finds me and shakes me until
I remember that I don’t need anything
especially not some bourgeois property
unclasped from an exposed wrist as I kneeled
at a bedside and held someone’s hand –

but this morning I get up on duty wide awake
to track a small tent outside the camp
that moves every day, follow a trail of canvas
dragged through sand, inside the perimeter
up to a cypress close to the centre-fire.

That night, over chickpea/soya and bread
I watch the strangers who watch us
through the flames and hear them whisper
in English and German,
one of them has heard about me:
the tall brunette with a broken arm
she says,

but then one of the babies is crying
and any of the babies could be mine,
so I go and feed it as much as I can,
a girl this one, hold her wet cheek
close to my mouth, tell her
I’m all that she needs, stop crying,
everything’s fine.

Public Footpath

The cows are trying to tell me something-
Winifred, Violet, Millicent May,
about Tess, who smells of the parlour and wears
two aprons over her dress,
one to flounce over the other
as she sings through the swing
of the gate:
in lemon verbena and seasoned wood/
wives and mothers are laid to rest/
I stop to pick up a windfallen apple
half of it slick and red.

Preserves

At  Shrewsbury I see someone I know to be dead
at the Lemon Tree Café or a resemblance
preserved, in a grown-up brother

blond with celtic knots on his arm
sharpened into scimitar blades.
The breakers’ yard on the border

has changed its name; a new byword for
sex and drugs in cars and assemblies
with warnings and two minutes silence, the sun

is so covered in clouds
that the forests of pine are silvery grey.
A mother, an archaeologist’s wife,

made oakleaf wine
and in a coracle we planted bulbs, our fingers
deep in mud at the lake-side.

Megan Watkins lives in London, UK, and her work has recently been published in Gloom Cupboard, Rhino Poetry and Sentinel Champions.

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