© Michael Willett
Author of This Is Not A Rescue and poetry submissions editor for New Welsh Reader, Emily Blewitt has poems in The Rialto, Poetry Wales, Ambit and The North, among others. She was Highly Commended in the 2016 Forward Prizes, and has appeared at the Hay Festival and on Radio 4. Emily has collaborated with other writers and artists on the Weird and Wonderful Wales project, and is a recipient of a Literature Wales bursary. She's currently writing her second collection.
13 weeks, 2 days
I don’t know how to say it,
but there you were—little ghost
in my ceiling, floating
on your side. The outline
of your slim hips, strung spine
stretched lazily in the same position
I sleep some nights, facing away
from your father. We watched you refuse
to show us your nose. You offered
your crown instead, crossed and uncrossed
your arms and legs, dipped
upside-down. You were turning
the way a seal rolls underwater
for joy. You were radiant
and reluctant to share. The midwife said
this was your place, that we were
just visiting. When finally
you lay on your back, a small otter
cradling clam and rock, she was quick
as a heron slipping a fish to the gullet
to capture your image. She had to be.
You were elusive. A natural phenomenon
observed perhaps twice. Luminous
like algae on the water,
like Northern Lights.
It’s getting your eye in:
scraping the surface layer
by layer with the edge of a trowel,
moving the earth towards you
and exposing the soil, a clutter
of generations before you.
Brushing dirt off dirt.
Holding dirt to the light
Sifting dirt like prospectors.
We dampen the ground, show
the plough-lines’ scar,
the clay cap that looks like stone,
the outline of the ring pit.
Stains show organic matter.
Marrow sticks to the tongue.
We mark what we find in situ
because we must.
Context is everything.
Love, this is how we find ourselves
once more in a field, with swifts and hares
and the farmer.
Where tributaries fuse,
where a person might stand
from a rath with her children and look
out to sea. For every two people
on their hands and knees,
four more wait at the edge
of the trench. This slow unearthing
makes us. We dig, not knowing
what it is that we are digging for.
That was the year it snowed in March.
Drifts inside the front door,
a small snowman in a corner
of the attic, and I crunched
up and down the hill to our house
in walking boots, keeping
to the verge. We scattered
bird seed in the garden.
and lost it just before
the heatwave struck, in May.
The grass singed, my sweet peas failed
to flower, our house was airless
and we couldn’t sleep or touch
each other. The cat shifted
from tile to tile. I blistered
walking up and down the hill
in sandals. By August,
the tension between us
and my headaches eased.
You told me that when lightning strikes
the junction box three times, it shorts.
I became lighter, stronger,
like wire. When the clouds cleared,
parch marks everywhere: seen
from the air, scars on the body
of the land that prove
there were settlements;
that someone once lived
here and here.
13 weeks, 2 days: Islands Are But Mountains: New poetry
from the United Kingdom (Platypus Press, 2019)
Archaeology: exclusive first publication by iamb
Parch marks: Creative Countryside (Spring 2019)