Royal Holloway Creative Writing Anthology 2012

Five Poems by Kate Smith


he carves his
hooks from ashes and flint

snow-still nights
sitting by the stew-pot

tender fish meat           
breaking above the flames -

bones spun thin and
white as salt --

seaweed over the door
cracking in the candlelight

my hair - braceleted
around his wrist

the green man

branch split bones - wick
white and green --

rosebay blooms from the
roots of his throat

budding sweet through the
cracks in his teeth -

early primrose in his
palm - star-eyed in the

morning light -- hair
wound round with celandines

threaded with seed heads of
winter aconite

between the bright footprints of
hellebore - scarlet-edged --


you shouldn’t have
taken the
mandrake root -
unearthed unquiet
among the seedlings

you shouldn’t have
warmed me - and
named me in the
april frost of
blossomed trees -

the others - white-faced
black-eyed - look past
my sedge-split fingernails
right down to my roots -
stones in my stomach --

one day I’ll close my eyes and
they’ll take my hand -
take my hand and bury me
under the bastard balm and cuckoo pint -
maybe you’ll cry for me

or maybe you’ll plant
your seedlings in the autumn
when leaves lie
golden on the earth - and the
mandrake roots have died --

the blacksmith’s son

moon full and fat
the fairies came -
carried him from the
fire hot forge to the
mist cradled cool
of forest night -

they kissed him
sweetly - tongues of vetch
bruising his arms with
blue columbine and
bright scars of
strawberry seeds --

they left him as
dew silvered on the
pale bark of his skin - and
the hollow mouths of
yarrow stalks
whispered in the grey -

dressed in a bellflower -
nettle-leaved - he lay
stained with the
candied glaze of
cherries - softly rotting --
his eyes veined with sap


born in the cup of a
gold grain husk

cut from the
skin of the earth --

thresh my hands into
sheaves - watch

cornflowers fall from
my hair - violet hearted

under the moon-slice of
a silver scythe --
winnowed and woven with
blood-coloured ribbon

a shock-headed puppet
on a farmer’s door -

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