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3 poems by Laura Stanley

fuchsia magellanica

In the centre of my grandmother’s garden

there were hundreds of miniature fuchsia girls


from a fountain of leaves

each flower a ballerina mid-twirl,

her cerise sepals splaying out like

two outstretched arms

multiplied into four

by the swirling blur

of momentum

their skirts violet petals,

blue tulle slowly darkening

into a midnight hemline

each filament a long, thread-thin leg

each anther a tiny, white slipper


I ripped apart the fuchsia girls,

popping feet

from ankles,

squeezing flesh

into mush

I even crushed the buds,

sleeping girls curled up inside satin pendants

Then I peeled open my skin in strips

Judith’s Maidservant

After ‘Judith Slaying Holofernes’ by Artemisia Gentileschi

I sharpen the sword for you,

then keep watch outside

until I hear his voice: bitch.

I run inside the tent.

Sword pressed to his throat,

you pin him to the bed.

He flails like a baby.

I wrench back his arms

as you force down his head.

My sleeves are rolled up.

My hair tied back in a scarf.

I couldn’t let you do this alone.

You dig in the blade. Saw.

Blood spurts,

dots my wrists like rubies.

Our faces are flushed.

Our arms burning.

Two wolves, we pant.

I pick up the king’s head

by its warm, slippery beard

and put it in my shopping bag.

Elizabeth Siddal Poses for Ophelia

You have not spoken for five hours, or more.

Your body is an extension of the porcelain bathtub.

Limbs still as tubes of wax. Hair hangs in water

like dead leaves. Toes crinkled. Nails soft and pliant.

Is this enough,

you think. He sighs in fevered torment.

His paintbrush flies, as if he is conducting the crescendo

of an opera. This is music. Magic. O, he is melding

you into her and her into you, mixing up divine tragedy.

Her clothes spread wide,

and mermaid-like, awhile bore her up . . .

till that her garments . . . heavy with their drink . . .

Under the bathtub, there are candles. A lash of air

pushes the thin flames so far over the edge

that they cannot return to shape. The water


You are not sure you can move. Inside your chest,

the tiny bunches of alveoli flare like skirts in flight.

Lung tissue spreads wide, drinks in fluid. Soon, you

will be seen for pneumonia. He paints on in fevered torment.


Laura Stanley is a poet from the West Midlands. Her heresy has ben published in bath magg, Magma, The Interpreter's House and by the Young Poets Network.


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