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3 poems by Christina Thatcher

What’s Left

When we meet, it’s through glass:

each time reminiscing

about our rickety bunkbeds,

escaped painted turtles,

the knockdown drag-outs

no one cared to stop.

When I leave he writes letters—

yellow paper with birds and hearts

and my name in a font he made

just for me. Sometimes,

I pull out each letter to re-read

what he’s had for dinner,

which books he’s finished,

how many push-ups he’s done,

and remind myself to persist: we are

smokejumpers, survivors.

What If

What if you pop a vein?

What if you pick up another

dirty needle, launch a blood clot

straight to your heart?

What if you crash your car

again—or worse, the Harley

Dad left you—turn it

to scrap metal?

What if you stop breathing

on another sticky floor or under

the Kensington Bridge,

the lawless land.

What if you forget the fires we’ve seen,

how we fought them, and I am left

here to remember it all

on my own?

How To Carry Fire

Conjure every fire you have ever read about—

London’s gutting, Brisbane’s breadless

factory, Boston’s burning. Remember

your aching home, the leftovers

of your childhood journals flaking

in the hot shell of your bedroom.

Bring these to a furnace at the front, stoke

with the poker your father pressed into

your mother’s neck. Take what those flames

can give you. Feel heat enter your stomach.

Stay wary now. You must never let the light

go out. Keep it lit until you learn to glow.


Christina Thatcher is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her work has featured in over 40 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, The Interpreter’s House and more. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017 and her second collection, How To Carry Fire, is forthcoming with the same press in 2020. To learn more about Christina’s work please visit her website: or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower. 


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