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2 poems by Rebecca Cullen


What is the shape of a charm against sadness?

Is it sleepless, whispering incantations to ward off sadness?

A cold bright day pierces all falseness;

sudden hard frosts elucidate sadness.

I think of your arrival on a boat across the river;

you are my oar to sweep through sadness.

A leaf rotates mid-air, suspended from a spider’s web;

this feat of physics distracts from sadness.

The soil is wild. Plump bulbs burst at the surface,

their incredulous flowers a hymn to past sadness.

You, in the mirror, your captive tears;

your pluming breath is your charm against sadness.

After Carola Luther

I am the bee slowing down the summer, hovering

above the yellow bellies of lilies in the garden,

sucking out their final embers, sticking in my legs

and hoicking pollen from their soft pockets.

The long flag iris leaves are browning, places where

I bathed in sunlight. The white dog rose is blown,

but two new buds rise like semi-quavers in a throat

at the end of a refrain. This is a turning, when

moments merge to make a season in my valley.


Rebecca Cullen worked as a teacher, logistics manager, florist, telephone operator and in the civil service before a Creative Writing MA and creative-critical PhD on the relationship between poetry and time. She is a Poetry Business and Live Canon winner and has poems in Carcanet New Poetries VII.


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