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2 poems by Rachel Bower


the cellophane fish

curled on her palm

promises luck

but she’s not sure

knows when oarfish rise

to shallow waters

quakes are near

a bad omen

spiny dogfish passed

off for cod, neatly

parcelled in paper

with a smile

tyrian purple, the smell

of clotted blood,


or indifference

black plastic

invisible to the eye

of the optical sorter

even plenitude

five loaves and two fish

full of plastic, all

hoping for miracles

for lucky stars


After W. S. Merwin

She nudges her cubs out, nose to head, as alert to threat

as they are ignorant, tumbling around her feet, pushing

her crouched legs straight. They jumble for milk, heat

between teeth as she looks ahead, scans the bush

for tremors, amber eyes bright. She is sturdy, little trace

of light paws running, streak of rust, clearing the fence –

slacker now, heavy with birth but the glowing face

betrays her, she will fly again, out like a flame if she senses

danger, slick into the night. But for now, she is maternal,

nosing them back underground. No trickery here, curling

a nest of dusty cubs, no perfect, hotly packed but gentle

in this dark gathering of blood, bracken and hearts unfurling.


Rachel Bower is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2017) and Epistolarity and World

Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Her poetry and short fiction has been widely

published, including in The London Magazine, The White Review, Magma, Stand

Magazine, New Welsh Reader and English Studies.


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