Laura Wainwright is from Newport, South Wales. Her poems have been published, and are forthcoming, in a range of magazines, journals and anthologies. She was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize poetry competition in 2013 and 2019; and awarded a Literature Wales Writer’s bursary in 2020 to finish writing her first poetry collection. She is also author of the book, New Territories in Modernism: Anglophone Welsh Writing 1930-1949 (University of Wales Press, 2018).
Elephant Slide in the Exclusion Zone
can sometimes mean to think
of them as a child: a wisped head
turned in a wheaten basket. Soft fists.
A bumblebee in a foxglove.
Out walking, my son points, says glove-fox
The young buzzing slip of words.
The first seeding questions in the dark
on an iron ladder up
to the height of an animal comrade’s back
would be a magnificent circus act
under a sun-striped tent of maple branches
a tight-chested pause
between its huge futurist ears
and then the slide, fast
down the stretched scooping trunk –
a mural of air, block and sky in a second.
of layering leaves,
the corroded matriarch in the exclusion zone
is the colour of broken crows’ eggs.
A single corvid mother checks the silence
with her Geiger-counted call,
A laundry huff of air
and then a weight kneading my shoulder,
testing a left nest.
An owl has shaken me
from a long wakefulness;
her wing sweeps my ear.
I am floored, but follow the track
with the assurance of a falconer.
Trees are lithographs in the hollowing light.
Last week’s snow is peeling on the hills like old paint.
What has to die tonight?
When, with ungainly grace,
the owl has gone, brief as a flower,
I scan the needled taupe.
I miss her painfully, like birdsong.
Though she left me a capsule of odd bones.
We enjoy our surface soapy membrane.
Here, it is right and just to rove our sights
over silky swirls of coiling spectrum hues,
distance what’s inevitable, beneath and above,
of happy's precarious precipice:
on this bubble's thin skin.
We breath honey scents from where
the detergent's aroma is most perfumed.
In big aeroplanes we wave stamped passports.
Cornucopia shelves thrive shops and sweet spots.
We gulp manna's syrupy foremilk till full to rest.
Tête-à-tête, we eskimo-nose loved freckles
close enough to see with bare eyes,
then we sleep like babies.
At this lucky alignment
the satin sheets are slippery.
The layer in-between is rendered
so one touch
is the end.