Poet, performer and facilitator Harula Ladd is based in the South West and is the current Exeter Slam Champion. She's also the founder of the Postal Poetry Library, and loves writing on-the-spot poems for the public. Fascinated by the power of the imagination, Harula is passionate about the way creativity connects us. She gathers ideas for her writing while out walking.
is hard to put back on at a moment’s notice,
when someone knocks on your door to offer
a piece of their mother’s Christmas cake.
You wipe wetness from your cheeks, demand your skin
quickly swallow you in again and keep the hand
where the skin is cracked behind your back.
Reach out with the other to receive
perfect Christmas cake, complete
with miniature marzipan holly.
You make eye contact with this new mother,
pushed to the edge of her own skin
until she’s shining. She’s beautiful.
The skin you live in is tight, thin,
bulging with broken that just wants
to breathe. At night you pin your skin
to the edges of your room, to the curtains,
hook it over the door handle, trap a corner
under the weight of a table leg so at least you can be free
while you sleep. When you wake, skin
won’t shrink to fit. You wonder if you should give up
your free feeling dreams where skin is so big you can swim in it,
inside it, exploring it from underneath like swimming underwater
looking up at the surface not wanting to break it yet.
It’s quiet and fascinating down here.
People can’t knock on the surface of the sea.
They’d have to wade in and get wet to reach you,
The girl who brought
the world home
She brought the world home like an injured bird
found by the road, shrunk to one metre across
to hang safely from her ceiling
like a breathing glitter ball behind closed curtains.
She lay on the field of her carpet to watch the living world above
twirl cobwebs in miniaturised hurricanes.
That first night, she couldn’t sleep. Got up
to warm some milk and heard the oceans burst.
'What’s wrong?' she asked.
The world replied,
'To shrink is no protection.
I cannot give life like this.
'You deny my power, hanging
me here behind closed curtains.
I need to be!'
'But I only … '
'You don’t even know you haven’t met freedom yet.'
Forests inhaled. Exhaled.
'To live is to be willing to die.
'Look. You are taller than me now.
Is that what you wanted?
To make me small and you big?
'In order to control something
beyond your understanding
you have to shrink it for it to make sense.
'For it to be safe. You shrink
what is vast only to grow more
of what has no importance.'
I roll myself out flat, squeeze
all you don’t need to know
from me and fold over seven times,
until I’m the size of an envelope. I slide in
to send myself to you.
Once sealed it’s too late to take back
bits added to me since we last met.
It’s fine. I can deny them or
cross them out before you open me.
At the weigh in the lady working
the Post Office counter raises an eyebrow.
'May I ask what’s inside?'
'Skin. No guts.'
I ask for second class. Gives me more time.
I land on your doormat stiff and sore.
You soak me in a bath like those teas that bloom
in a mug, and the little I’d been prepared to say
dissolves, and goes the way of the bathwater.
Once dry, I dress, all fresh and empty.
All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb