top of page

3 poems by Rebecca Goss


(for Brendan Cleary)

With both arms skyward, calling my name -

that’s how you said farewell at Chelmsford.

I blew you a kiss across cold station tracks,

having shared your stage that night

and afterwards, at the bar, you’d told me

about the importance of white space

in a poem, how you’d been workin’ on the white spaces

and I’d looked at you with serious eyes

until you sipped at your bottle, raised a wry brow.

Everything was back in the day,

the days of my teens - you so unknown to me

but poetry starting to show itself; a new fissure

beneath my skull. I had to wait till I was forty

to see your splendid hat. Wait till then

to see you dance a little in the spotlight,

the audience leaning for your verbal yield.

You laughed until carriages swallowed you up,

your track heading to the Channel, mine

to a chalk river. Waters with their respective

histories of trade – carriers of wheat and stone –

but this night we brought poems,

small cargoes ferried in our mouths.

The Inuit Experiment

The priests and teachers came, collected them like shells

from a foreign place. Aged seven, they stepped onto

Copenhagen harbor to be quarantined, in case of lice.

They went to school, learned to knit. Little Danes

circling the Queen of Denmark, but not telling how they

cried at night. How they dreamt of a mother’s voice it’s beautiful,

like Paradise, don’t be sad. Eighteen months to return them,

dock them at Nuuk, the shape of family waiting. They ran.

Jumping up and down, pulling at arms, their Danish words

drumming adult ears like peculiar music. Mothers crouched

but shook their heads. Children raised their fingers

to a mother’s upper lip, her breath on their palms as they pushed

her mouth apart, searching for her cry, their lost tongue.


The fit of my gym skirt, its drop

from my androgynous waist.

How I tucked in white Aertex.

My ponytail’s regular swing

as I jogged to the track. No athlete,

just some freak aptitude for tackling

those upright frames with eager grace.

Each barrier a split-second encounter,

my legs scissoring clear, the bolt to the next one

and the next. 100 metres into future,

my body sprung and briefly making sense.


Rebecca Goss is the author of three collections and two pamphlets. Her second collection, Her Birth, (Carcanet 2013) was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the 2015 Warwick Prize for Writing and the 2015 Portico Prize for Literature. Twitter: Website:


bottom of page