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Laura Wainwright

the poet

Laura Wainwright is from Newport, South Wales. Her poems have been published and are forthcoming in a range of magazines, journals and anthologies. Laura was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize poetry competition in 2013 and 2019, and awarded a Literature Wales Writers' Bursary in 2020 to finish her first collection. She's also the author of New Territories in Modernism: Anglophone Welsh Writing 1930-1949.

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the poems

Elephant Slide

in the Exclusion Zone

00:00 / 01:39

To forgive
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
corrects, glove-box.
The young buzzing slip of words.
The first seeding questions in the dark
about dying.

Each step
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.

Abandoned minder
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,

she forgives.

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00:00 / 01:05

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.

Noctua is Latin for ‘night owl’. It's also the name of a constellation no longer recognised by astronomers.

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00:00 / 01:09

I only want to know
            I told them

and tried again to see straight through
            the pane of glass

to a reservoir 
            of opaque depth

with its own fickle climate 
            and a bed (if it could be reached)

of doors and roads, 
            instead of silt, 

of pitched roofs and weathervanes.
            The wind changed. A fog blew in. 

A cormorant hanging its wings out to dry
            was Jesus on the water. 

On a sign, a stick-figure pleaded – wide-eyed, mouth round. 
            Stay out.

I plunged.
            I wrote down everything 

I thought 
            I saw 

the complete picture.
            And it was utterly 


Publishing credits

Elephant Slide in the Exclusion Zone: Burning House Press

  'Secrets and Lies'

Noctua: Poetry Birmingham (Issue 2)

Post-truth: Finished Creatures 'Balance' (Issue 3)

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