3 poems by Anna Saunders

    Not Quite Raptors

    I saw a heron - it crashed out of the bushes

    like it was breaking down a door with its head.

    It looked more dragon than bird,

    huge wings beating the skin of the sky.

    Blackbirds on the lawn, Goldfinches on the feeders

    are what I am used to.

    Birds that harvest scattered berries

    or bite the cusks off sunflowers seeds

    so they can eat the heart.

    Pampered birds with beautiful songs.

    These other creatures

    are taught by their wild fathers

    that getting is brutal.

    Last night in a poor part of the city

    the words the poets uttered seem punched out

    by the mic’s clenched fist.

    Pages flapping white,

    words spearing our attention

    so we wriggled and reflected light

    off our landlocked fins.

    Back home I read feather-light,

    fluttering poetry,

    written by glinting parker pens.

    Did I tell you about the Egret?

    It shot out of the marshes

    carried my startled, uttered fuck

    to a unremitting sun.

    Above the dunes, the marram grass sloughing

    in the wind like a crowd gasping

    the bird working its wings like a mouth

    opening and shutting in an urgent,

    hard worn confession.

    Last night, the poets, not quite raptors,

    but hungry to the marrow,

    split the air with their urgent flight.

    So Many Storms Right Now

    I blame you Red Jasper, small scarlet token

    shiny blood boulder, impassioned stone.

    I find you in my bed, bright on the sheets like lipstick

    or menstrual flow, a broken rosebud calcified,

    glossy as a lacquered box.

    What a token you were for the weather gods,

    they wore you in their hands like a blood blister,

    at your bidding the crops were quenched

    gold ladders of hay rose to the clouds

    the drowty cattle’s thirst was slaked

    and the grass sprung up, a green frenzy.

    Red stone you are impervious

    as if laminated, and the rain runs off.

    But what storm you have stirred

    for the rest of us.

    The Tempestaries grasped you

    warm in their palm like a dice before the throw.

    But too many storms right now,

    corroding the landmass,

    stirring the flesh into a tempest

    like a house sucked into a seething sea.

    The sands are spirited

    scurrying like golden ghosts to haunt a body.

    After his death, there’s no one out here except you

    and the animal that has slipped its lead.

    Starved of the sea the ridged estuary beach

    is an exposed rib cage,

    the rack of something famished.

    The tide turns, miles out,

    a pale spine twisting.

    Your dog circles a dead seal

    Its skin leaking a glitter on to the shore.

    Some bird of prey has plucked the pip

    from the core

    leaving an oval in its chest

    perfect as Rembrandt’s circle.

    How immaculate is the hole left

    when the heart is eaten out.

    On the horizon the wind turbines turn acrobatic.

    Moon-white crucifixes stripped of Christ.


    Anna Saunders is the author of Communion (Wild Conversations Press), Struck (Pindrop Press), Kissing the She Bear (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox and Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams), and the forthcoming Persephone Goes on Question Time. Anna has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.