Slim Ghosts by Anna Saunders


There’s a ring of silver birch

behind the fields,

white trunks cauterise the gloaming.


A tight family not yet torn apart,

slender sisters, slim ghosts,

wands of the moon.


I stood among them one night to recite a poem

about a father who met death

with bones like the lightest timber.


As I spoke his name I stood on rough twigs,

discarded for being too brittle

for a bed beneath the earth.


How long had I been standing

above the paw-marked hole,

speaking a language

that those who go below, can’t translate?


We should leave them alone,

walk lightly over them.


They are with their own

keeping warm, flank to flank,


furred or fleshed, invisible,

to us now, and unhearing


as we call their names out

to an audience of empty air.


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Anna Saunders has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North, ‘a modern myth maker’ by Paul Stephenson, and Tears in the Fence said of her ‘Anna Saunders’ poetry is reminiscent of Plath – with all its alpha achievement and radiance’.