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.
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.
Noctua is Latin for ‘night owl’. It's also the name of a constellation no longer recognised by astronomers.
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.
I wrote down everything
the complete picture.
And it was utterly