Helen Ivory is a poet and artist. Her third Bloodaxe collection is The Breakfast Machine. She is an editor for The Poetry Archive and edits the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears. She teaches for the UEA, The Poetry School and The Arvon Foundation, and is currently editing with George Szirtes: In their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on their Poetry, due from Salt in September. These poems are from her next collection, Waiting for Bluebeard, due from Bloodaxe next year.
from ‘The Disappearing’
One night she visited herself after death
drowned in the three piece suit
of a very large man,
her braids held aloft by a cloud of bats.
She snipped at the lamp’s fringe
with a pair of garden shears
that were too rusted
for her living hands to work.
The winter morning brought so little light
it was hard to understand
the hank of hair like a noose at rest
severed on the wooden floor.
She stepped out of herself
like a Matryoshka, one full moon,
looked along the row of herself,
at the hand-painted colours,
checked each pair of eyes
for what lived there.
A scarf hung about each pelvic girdle
to conceal the scar of each birth;
hearts were black hens
held in each pair of arms
and cabbages grew
from fallen seeds at their feet.
When earth spun away from the moon
she attempted to gather herself back in,
and when she could not
she drowned the sun like a sack of kittens
and threaded the rooster’s song
back into his throat.
She presses missed heartbeats
into a wet plaster wall
with her wedding ring finger
measuring out silences
wide enough to fall into.
Plaster loses its flesh-tone
when it dries,
leeches moisture from skin.
The heart dives
into a well of forgetting.
She already knew her bones
were there for all the world to see,
so she unpeeled her hide
in the changing rooms.
Bluebeard barely recognised
the small neat form
slicing through the footbath
like a fox through night.
In the pool, she was an electric storm,
and the water shrunk away.
She marvelled, oh the joy!
She could not feel a thing.
Visit Helen’s website.
Visit Ink Sweat and Tears.
Tags: Helen Ivory Bluebeard poems, Helen Ivory poems, Helen Ivory poet, Helen Ivory The Disappearing, Helen Ivory Waiting for Bluebeard, One night she visited herself after death, She already knew her bones, She presses missed heartbeats, She stepped out of herself