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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.


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