Lines for autumn

Yesterday, I appeared on Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ reading a recent poem about autumn, a piece I wrote in my head while running round Linacre reservoirs in Chesterfield a few weeks ago. The feature was part of a day-long poetry takeover, including poems from Keats right through to Robin Robertson, Zaffar Kunal and Liz Berry.

This was my piece, ‘Struck’ which you can also hear on the BBC website here. 

Struck

The leaves aren’t lit, but morning’s struck a match
so I can see a path through Linacre – low gold
that spreads across the grates of reservoirs

and stokes the trees, long after an electric summer
and its short-fuse sky. September, sparking
on the ground so nobody can step into these woods

and not be burned. A woman calling for her dog
goes smouldering to moss. A cyclist
becomes a Catherine Wheel. I run

and feel my body catch, my face a taper,
shoulders taking light, my ribcage flammable.
I shed the new ash of my collarbones and spine

until I’m cinder, smoke, or left with all the parts
last winter made – the soft snow of my shoulders,
wrists and throat and when I try to hold

my voice I find it’s thawed, a river,
all the names I ever knew
afloat.

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