Mslexia, the magazine for women who write | www.mslexia.co.uk
From Issue 55
She’d plait my prairie-grass hair
as though weaving a baby corn doll,
I’d close my eyes, inhale pollen, resin
and woodsmoke from her skin.
She’d say: never let the embers sleep
wake them up with a stick like this –
and tickle me with sooty fingers.
Winter, she left for the kindling crop,
a hand-carved hatchet on her back.
Seven pale moons have since turned
their wounded faces and some nights,
waist-deep, I part the forest seeking
the glint edge of pulsing swamp
where she swore fireflies hatch under
the curled, peeling skins of pawpaw
trees. I tiptoe in, pinch the soft eggs
between my fingertips and study
my stolen glow. I want to tap the light
forever, treasure it in a jar on the porch,
hear the rhythmic clink of light bodies
thrown like hailstones against ice. I
dream her home: armfuls of hornbeam,
larkspur and blueberries for breakfast.
Yet each new day her bunk is empty,
logs lie brittle in their pit, her lantern
on the porch a silenced heap of ash.
KADDY BENYON is 38, has two children aged five and eight, and lives in Cambridge, where she is Poet in Residence at the Scott Polar Research Institute. Kaddy has penned over 70 episodes of Hollyoaks and three spin-off novels; her poems have been widely published and she won the Crashaw Prize with her first collection, Milk Fever (Salt). Her creative work is helped by her writing workshop, her Jungian analysis and the scrapbooks of ideas and inspirations she creates. It is her ambition to travel to the North Pole to see a polar bear while there is still one there to see.
This poem is published, with all the other winners of the 2012 Mslexia Poetry Competition, in issue 55 of Mslexia. For the latest on the writing world, publishing and creativity subscribe now. To sample more Mslexia features or to find out about the latest issue click here.