Poems by Angela Readman (UK)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 50
Once I Lost the Wings
Once I lost the wings, I started to listen
to the slightest sound my body made,
piece together my own dawn chorus
from the crack of my knees, the dropped stone
of a sigh. I stared at the knife on the rock
and listened to air steel into the slits in my shoulders,
like arched hands clutching a blade of grass.
I pictured a violinist losing his fingers, my bones
no mere a harp by a window, casually picked
by a breeze. Those wings were so strong
I could barely walk some days without being pulled
out of my footprints to look down at the land,
a dirty boot I couldn’t make fit. In their absence,
I heard my own cries fly, fold into the spaces left
by blackbirds and crows. The sky climbed on my back,
I carried it wherever I went with my stick. I felt
feather’s in cold shifts, the cloak of my wings
around a man’s shoulder’s somewhere. Closing
my eyes, I saw them pinned in a closet, still beating,
soft as eyelashes on a neck, moths conducting hurricanes.
Lady with a Goose on her Head
No one carries a still wing a well as the lady
with a goose on her head. In the market, ducks
dangle by the crop, she walks on, her posture
is a girl balancing books. I heard woman and bird
became friends after it quit laying eggs, waddled
up to her door, a pick of crumbs on the mat. I hear
she's a widow, and I hear she never married. Love
was a kamikaze at war. I can't ask. She has ears
only for the common grey goose, gabbling its view
of stone clouds and hail. Each morning she passes
in a red coat, buys a quince and strolls on, a smile
she won't give just anyone folded into feet vividly
paddling nowhere, infinite stories webbed to her lips.
It's possible she's poor, or invented the biro i use.
Only one thing is clear: she has a goose that won’t leave.
It flies so completely in the air she wraps around herself.
Angela Readman's poems have won the Mslexia Poetry Competition, The essex Poetry Prize, and The Charles Causey. They have been published in various journals and anthologies in recent years. In 2015, her debut short story collection, Don't Try This at Home, won The Rubery Book Award and was shortlisted for the Edgehill Prize. Nine Arches are publishing her poetry collection The Book of Tides in November 2016.
Image: "23-920" by Oregon State University.