Issue 6

Rebecca Perry
Four poems

Surface Level

On nights like this it can be hard to sit still.
It can be hard to make human contact when
we sweat as instantly as thunderstorms.
The air all bog cotton and centre of a cloud,
rouses itself into formation, rolls up, gathers.
The windows are blank eyes, black and still.
The windows are gaping mouths and no air.
We lie out flat on sheetless beds, cold floors;
limbs limp like foxes’ at the hems of country lanes.

Outside, the frogs who tried to cross the road
dot the tarmac in their hapless constellation,
freckle-flat, browning rapidly like apple bites.
The sky cracks open, sudden as light. We watch
the downpour, its coax. The rain is swelling them up.


little lion. little nibbler.
little face dunker. little duck.
little clinging cashew nut.
little rummager, sifting for gold.
little hovercraft. little clamberer.
little engine. little warrior, little armoured.
little snail-slime wings.
little nuzzler, nuzzling a neck.
little alien, little feeler, little zebra.
little dinosaur legs.
little sycophant. little mounter.
little vampire, little pollen sucking bead.
little pocket knife.

Notes Taken from the Breakfast Room

One year (they settled on nineteen seventy three) the sun was so fierce and its light was so fine on the last day of July, that the apples dropped clean off the trees, and the pegs welded on to the line.
They say they’ve never seen colours like those they saw that day; the hens looked like fat jars of marmalade* buzzing with light on a window ledge, the straw could have been woven by Rumpelstiltskin himself, and they couldn’t look up at the sky to say.
When the sun was wedged just above the hill (they like to tell this part the most), they cracked an egg from the Breakfast Room sill and, believe it or not, when they arrived by its side (only ten or eleven stairs down; pitter-patter feet, the scatter of dust, the squawks, the heat) the yolk was as set as it could have been and the underside beginning to brown.

*The cook before last had been quite the trick and, as a rule of thumb, could squeeze an orange dry through the peel; even the jams of strawberry and plum lined up in the parlour, more often than not, would have a citrussy kick- her hands being always so full of the flavour.

A Nocturnal
after John Donne’s A Nocturnal upon St. Lucie's Day, being the shortest day

It is the year’s midnight and the dark, short day is hers also, Lucy’s, who will barely give us a blink of sun. The light has long since died and only hints of it hang in puddles and through the branches of very dark trees.

The early nightfall calls for silence
without even meaning to and we all secretly fear
this darkness might be perpetual. We’re urged
to get half an hour of fresh air while there’s still light,
take Vitamin D. The sky is an eyelid
we cannot stop closing. The city feels invisible –
our high rise lights and street lights and
fly by nights, not programmed to come on so early,
are little beast eyes waiting to glow in a cave.
The umbrellas from yesterday’s heavy rainfall
and fast winds hang crooked and broken
from door handles and the mouth of dustbins.
They are the only bats we have in the city,
or the only ones we allow ourselves to believe in.