There must have been a house
where today there is a hole.
I’ve walked this street each dawn
for twenty years, but couldn’t say
what stood there once, or the hour
a bulldozer distressed the view.
All day, I am troubled by
this sudden appearance of sky,
the light that has clarified
my life’s lack of attention.
Walking home at sunset
my eyes are pulled to the void
that has conjured a lonely tree
sagging with purple fruit.
Guilty already, I cross the street
and pluck a single plum.
I am not sure why I do this
and the fruit is unripe, bitter,
but I make myself eat it -
rind and flesh and stone.
She no longer knows what tales to tell,
transformed into her own bad fairy
spinning a curse at the cradle’s foot.
This life was made with love on a bed
that did not dream of dead birds
or deserts, wars of water and wheat.
So she cleaves her tongue to stories
of science, of simple heroic acts,
of goodness at the heart of things.
What she does not say: the spell
of ice is broken. All the apples
are poisoned and the court is asleep.
Emma Harding’s poems have been published in various magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Stand, Magma and The North.