Poet and reviewer Emma Lee is the author of The Significance of a Dress and Ghosts in the Desert. She was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, and the co-editor of Over Land, Over Sea: an anthology of poems expressing solidarity with refugees crossing the Mediterranean on small boats and rafts. Emma's poetry has featured in many print and online journals including Fevers of the Mind, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Clear Poetry and more.
The Bridal Dresses
Each dress hangs from a noose.
One is plain satin with scalloped lace,
another an orgy of tulle,
dreamy organza with appliqué flowers
hanging from wire
strung between palm trees.
One is short, a shift with a tulip skirt,
the sort of dress picked
in a hurry to satisfy a shotgun
or Article 522.
The breeze breathes through them,
bullies the dresses into ghosts,
brides with no substance,
angels bereft of their voices.
What the Dust Left
After art installation
The Fading Afterglow of Creation
by Dave Briggs and Jack Squires
A screen sculpts a crumpled mass
in an empty house, a 3-D image that
takes the shape of what could be a heart.
A sci-fi trope: machines outliving us.
We all hope what will survive of us
is not the pile of admin, worthless warranties,
the embarrassing tweet, the spilt coffee,
but our Insta life, our filtered wishes.
The sculpture is not the easy outline
of an emoji, but the complexity
of valves, veins, a possibility
of an organ, a human's engine.
Here, what's left is our digital footprint,
the avatar we taught to fight, scavenge, collect.
Playerless it repeats the same responses, contact
only from bots, a drift of binary lint.
It's the unedited part of us that decided
who we touched. The digital heart
waits for us to breathe emotion into it,
sculpting the memory of what it most wanted.
The Wrapped Hedges
It looks as if a fog has whirled around the hedges,
wrapping them in a swirl of candy floss like a fleece
protecting them from frost. The implication is the hedges
will be unwrapped to show a healthy growth, firm stems,
perfectly green leaves, branches stretched in welcome.
The covering takes on the texture of a regular weave,
as if a team of spiders had worked solidly for months,
but the structure is too crude to be natural, too regular
to constructed by anything but a programmed machine.
It reflects a grid of lines running from left to right
with rectangular holes. If laid flat, it would represent
a map of a housing estate, plans made by those seeking
to enrich themselves on the grounds councils cannot
demonstrate they have an adequate housing supply,
that somehow executive, four bedroom homes,
beyond the pockets of those on waiting lists, will meet
and it’s fine to build in the country out of reach
of public transport and amenities but it’s just these
birds who will prevent building during the nesting
season that are the problem. So man-made webs
are their suggested solution; mimic nature to prevent it.
The Wedding Dresses in Beruit: The Significance of a Dress
What the Dust Left Uncovered: After... (December 8th 2022)
The Wrapped Hedges: exclusive first publication by iamb