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New Poems from Sally Flint

Dare

 

The kingfishers appeared

more like darting fish;

their wings skimmed the dappled water,

assured they knew the measure

 

of every bend along their flight.

We were surprised by their speed,

how on the longest day

they flashed like neon lights.

 

Teetering across a path of stones

laid in the shallows like a string

of musical notes, we remembered

a school song about leaping frogs.

 

We held on to roots, fascinated

that they supported the bank‒side,

while above our heads leaves rippled

green applause to marble trout.

 

That dusk deer came alongside

to drink, and moorhens

brought a brood of chicks,

to roost within touching distance.

 

Dragonflies settled in tall grass.

Bats that’d been invisible all day

erupted from branches. Then, in the face

of the moon, we jumped.

 

 

 

All the Way Home  

 

Boats lay secured along the sand.

On the last day a shoreline was ours

 

to explore. We clambered fast

across rocks as if we were crabs escaping

 

the beaks of gulls. Someone screamed.

Out of the water the body looked

 

like a wrecked ship stretching taller

than a man. Grown‒ups soon gathered,

 

poked tentacles with sticks. As it dulled

in the sun we headed into the surf,

 

squealing when brushed by seaweed

or shadows. Locals didn’t tell us,

 

the ‘man o war’ is a gang of polyps

that hang and work together.

 

The previous night fishermen witnessed

the shoal of giant jelly fish glowing

 

on the waterline, star‒studded

with venom that dissolves flesh.

 

Even when one’s been dead for hours,

its sting leaves a line like a whip.

 

 

 

See How They Run

 

Show homes are now open at prestigious locations

across the city. Canal and riverside apartments

 

are especially in demand; premium properties

for those who can finance a better view.

 

The fields where horses used to raise their heads

in hope of sugar lumps from a rambler’s hand ‒

 

drained. Land adjacent to railway tracks

counsellors said would never be built on

 

because no‒one could tolerate the noise,

are piled with wood trusses so thin, they sag

 

before concrete is laid. Corridors and double

glazed accommodation run floor to floor

 

like pre‒packed sandwiches. Rats wait

for crumbs. Mice fear their tails.

 

 

 

Picked 

 

As children we imagined the redundant airfield

before the blackberry bushes, as if playing

alongside an old film, our arms splayed

to greet the bombers who limped home.

Juice dyed scratches on our fingers

as we crammed jars with fruit picked

from beneath thorns, which claimed runways.

 

As adults we gave up picking crops in summer,

from ripe strawberries to russets so plump

they were prime to fall from branches.

Dust tracks became mud stuck to our boots.

Birds and insects hovered like voyeurs for a taste.

We blame them for any blemished flesh,

invisible, until we take a bite.

 

 

 

 

Sally Flint’s poems have won awards and been anthologised most recently in A Body of Work (Bloomsbury) and The Tree Line (Worple Press). She has two collections published: Pieces of Us (Worple Press) and The Hospital Punch (Maquette Publications). She teaches and lectures in creative writing and has a particular interest in collaborations in the arts and socially committed poetry and short stories. She is co-editor of Riptide Journal based at the University of Exeter.

Featured Image: ‘Moonlight on River’, J.M.W. Turner (1826).

© Tate. Released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported).

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