Beth Brooke

back

next

the poet

Retired teacher Beth Brooke was born in the Middle East, where she did important parts of her growing. She now lives on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast: its landscapes seeping into her writing. Beth's debut collection, A Landscape With Birds, will be published by The Hedgehog Press in 2022.

the poems

Man and Bird

Ink on paper preparatory work for

the Unknown Political Prisoner (1953)

00:00 / 01:02
SoundCloud_Sharing.png

                        'Speak to me,' says the crow,

                        'give me your story.

                        Tell the roots and branches

                        of where you chose to roost

                        and build your nest.'


                        The man settles the crow upon his chest,

                        the needle prick of its claws

                        a small discomfort

                        in exchange for company,

                        for the richness of the crow’s attention.


                        'I come,' he says, 'from the scent of the sea.

                        I was seeded by the ocean

                        in the valleys between chalk hills.


                        'In autumn the hawthorns

                        of the inland slopes

                        are bent by salt breezes

                        and heavy with berries,

                        crimson, tough-skinned

                        against the blasts of winter.

                        They were my roost.'


                        'I will go there,' says the crow,

                        'I will gather berries for you.

                        The scent of the sea will be on them.

                        It will comfort you.'

Skin

00:00 / 00:31
SoundCloud_Sharing.png

                        I have begun to inspect

                        the edges of myself,

                        I notice that I bruise more easily

                        than when I was young.


                        I catalogue this,

                        and the creases just beginning

                        to be visible around my mouth.


                        I think of my mother’s skin

                        withered, transparent,

                        fragile as tissue paper;

                        the slightest move tears it,

                        lets mortality in.

The Taste of Summer

00:00 / 00:50
SoundCloud_Sharing.png

                        In childhood I ride the hill,

                        stand on the pedals, propel myself

                        to the top,

                        throw down the bike,

                        and flop exultant under a peach-fat sun.

                        It hangs ripe in an endless sky

                        heavy with the scent of August.

                        I reach up, plunge my hands

                        wrist-deep into summer's flesh;

                        gouge out the fruit,

                        cram my mouth, eat

                        until I am nectar-drunk with joy.


                        In childhood, chin and fingers sticky

                        with summer juice,

                        I ride down the hill.

                        Legs stretched out above the pedals,

                        I shake with laughter.

                        I am eight years old and I can eat the sun.

Publishing credits

Man and Bird: exclusive first publication by iamb

Skin: Green Ink Poetry (Discovery Part 2)

The Taste of Summer: an earlier version of this poem

  appeared in Bonnie's Crew (Issue 5)