After the first, my star still north and rising,
they patched his purse of blood-burst skin,
my sleeping bud and starless. I remember him:
in all that dusk and darkness, my bygone boy
would never begin with spring-eternal grin
of years. In infant rain, I brought him here.
Near to the starshook brooks, to the water’s call,
to the hill worn warm by the greening flocks
and the fox which chases night from the hills.
Remember, still, how I holy held and fell
like a last-prayer priest to my knees? These
in the sleeping snow, these in the damply death-
throe glow of Madonna’s weeping eye: these
are the lives in the seeds which cry to the gaping
mouth of night. Yes. These are all mine. I
and my yesterday’s children who never came by
and stamped their sparks on the pavement bright.
Theirs was the sleep when my eye-fire died,
when horizons never would rise in their stride
and my homehope lost in the land and gone.
Through gasping fog and winter on, I do not let
the sterile beds which hold their heads begin
to bow and hunchback-bend when village boys
and friends and all the wheeling, laughing ends
of summer spring that sleeping wall. Tonight,
cruciform, I lay another quiet life I never knew at all.
The Night Country
Old winter hour, gloam and the glow
of this last evening fire, after the time
of the cold and away from my last-gasp
hourglass and this passing grey; after
the far-cast dust of my day when the half-
light fields breathe dark in the dusk,
from this terminal night and the drums
of Carthage rung in those my passing bells;
out in the darkland dells where the dead
lambs bleat, from the moorside wells
where the madmen sleep and the sun
does not tear into rooms anymore;
where no morning comes, and the lungs
of the hills rise black in the smoke. Oh,
glow of the land on the night’s far-side
where the lantern-light and the lightning
spine are the time of childhood alone,
yesterday’s echo in my broken-bell
throat, and the stardrop ponds where I
rocked and rolled and used to laugh
show a burnt and black-lipped Medusa.
Remember this last: that after the snap
of my hospital heart, that after the stars
in my eyes dim dark and the nightjars long
in my absence cry, I’ll take all of the feet
of the fields in my stride. Up and out
of the night country, with all of the valley’s
white rage at my back, I’ll tear up the forest,
the fire, the fog-fallen towers and flute-stem
flowers which rise through the cracks of these
churchyard bones. This home slows to black,
and I won’t look back.
Morning on the water
and a wet-mouthed world
gave a lost last look
at the lovers who curled
on the banking
poured a hot greasy laugh
at the stars in the lake.
I remember you
my laughing love
when that night
we had chips
and no scent of filth
on our teeth
on our lips. Down fingertips
the long hot
silver which spilled
from your skin
when the feminine ring
of a shop bell, the fossilised swing
by the garden shed
rings out an evening.
But here and now,
the garden giggles and springs
at the chime of your name.
Your voice, unremembered,
I’d know miles away.
- Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. She has twice been named a London Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Young Writer. In 2013 she became an Arts Council Northern Voices poet and Lieder Poet at the University of Leeds. Her poems have appeared in Seamus Heaney’s Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Interpreter’s House. Having studied at The University of Cape Town and worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura has recently become Agenda’s Young TS Eliot Poet and been shortlisted for a Charter-Oak Award for Best Historical Fiction in Colorado. This year Laura received a Shadow Award in America, was named one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets, and became a BBC New Voice for 2017. You can follow Laura on Twitter @thelauratheory_.