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All that was discovered in the end was a small patch of islands like stones tipped out of

inside-out pockets as we shrugged at the clutter because gone was the thing we thought

we’d brought to hand around. Endless overblown tissues on the table of the meeting. A

packet of cigarettes, a watch stopped at the exact time that something happened. Our

jumpers shrinking, like our world, because we’ve had them on the wrong setting, let them

go round and round on automatic instead of fending for ourselves, wringing the necks of

our own strung-out cattle. And on those islands we placed our anarchists, our

grandmothers, anything that could dig without stopping. The nodding heads go up and

down, syphoning what little blood out. The fish swim in, ingest, think better of it. Though

not of us. Their skin more transparent than remembered, their gills ill. And my mother

born with one, like a hand stretched out. All that was discovered in the end was Antarctica,

and, that, they claim, we’re still working on.

The Month (iii)



can’t stop leaving the earth behind

boxing off slots of days

like when you walk through the street and it’s all just mud just piles of unsorted things I’m

trying not to look at

the glare of smashed glass in the windows of recently opened limited companies with

unusual names and how I narrow to the finest crack a flint of skin a toe treading grass blade

through park vein where I never thought snow could become so vague


I’m not replying to the people or I’m shouting at the people or I’m under my breath

ten-second delay and crying at a policeman born into roleplay into high-vis higher laws

orders and I said what I could 

performed like a sorry daughter

some hierarchies are born to remain


heard the story of a man who thought swearing was a swear word 

used to shout swearing swearing whenever he believed he was wronged in some way 

the way I shout snow snow whenever I’m looking for something I want to reanimate


the way it’s the time all my ornaments were thrown out on the roof that I remember

all owls all cats all cacti             all named

some trauma is unsupported

will render itself unimportant and come and sleep on your couch and offer you unlimited

tapas as it ought to and one day we’ll all be friends


I say yes yes yes to anything suggested

I say no no no to anywhere I am told I have to stay


and I learnt how to cut a thing with scissors how to go round the head round and round

each set of in-place curls

and we’d put it in a scrapbook some of us in some of those done old days whatever we had



fingers over webcams while we mouth what we have to say


I thought maybe I should stretch out an arm but I know the place too well and whether I

stretch it or whether I don’t the result will anyway be touch the earth again


taught my daughter the word fog

said come outside you’ll see

she did not

I said Fog


the leg that tries to go home is the leg that kicks the shop front down the leg that slams your assumptions into soft ground walking round and round the ring road looking for a new

way out 


Lydia Unsworth has published two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (KFS Press, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize), and two pamphlets. Her latest pamphlet YIELD (KFS Press) and debut novel Distant Hills (Atlatl Press) are forthcoming in 2020. Recent work can be found or is upcoming in SPAM, Bath Magg and Blackbox Manifold. Twitter: @lydiowanie

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