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2 poems by Laura Wainwright


Before the birth I chose

the fattest novel I could find –

a weighty, stiff-backed thriller

about a painting

of a wild tethered bird.

I tucked it in my hospital bag,

imagined nesting, feeding,

flitting in and out of worlds –

a chapter or two while he slept.

The following months brought

an unseasonal snow

of muslin cloths.

The land was sore.

My book lay pristine

with dust:

a plot of little bones,

light as plumage;

of hunger, flushed and gold.

Note: See Carel Fabritius’s painting, The Goldfinch (1654) and Donna Tartt’s 2014

novel of the same title.


After Max Ernst’s painting

Día de los Muertos.

Day two.

Leonora in her studio

in Colonia Roma

sets down her brush,

picks up a ripe orange.

She presses a smeared thumbnail

into its dimpled skin –


the colour of the earth’s core.

She drops it:

a painted stone

or skull

going down

in night water.

The luminous plunge

is fossilised

and concentric.

Impossibly round.

There it hangs:

the kindly oil lamp

of an anglerfish,

tattooed sun

of quietude

and chaos

Note: Día de los Muertos is the Mexican Festival of the Dead.


Laura Wainwright is from Newport, South Wales. She is author of New Territories in

Modernism: Anglophone Welsh Writing, 1930-49 (University of Wales Press, 2018). She was

shortlisted in the Bridport Prize poetry competition in 2013 and 2019, and awarded a

Literature Wales Writer’s bursary for her poetry in 2020.


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