Kathryn Bevis is Hampshire Poet 2020-21 and founder of The Writing School Online. Her poems have won several awards, including first prize in the Poets & Players and Against the Grain competitions, a commendation in the Hippocrates Prize for Medicine and Poetry, being shortlisted for the Nine Arches Press Primers scheme and, most recently, being longlisted for the National Poetry Competition. Kathryn’s poems have been published widely both in print and online and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. As well as teaching for The Writing School Online, Kathryn designs and delivers ACE and county council-funded Poetry for Wellbeing projects for adults in mental health settings, substance misuse recovery settings, and prisons. She is working towards her first collection.
in the beginning is the skydeep
and the skydeep is shapeless and hollow
and blankness dwells there
and the bodyus broods over the belly of the horizon
clinging to skeletons of trees
and we say let there be wavetrail
and there is wavetrail
and we divide the wavetrail from the skydeep
and the outpour from the inshrink
and we call the wavetrail WE ARE
and we call the skydeep IT IS
and we say let there be curlsmoke in the midst of the skyswim
and let it divide the WE ARE from the IT IS
and we fashion the curlsmoke from the skyswim
and it is so
and we call the curlsmoke ONE
and the skyswim we call MANY
and we say let the breakwave be heard among the MANY
and the pebblerush also
and we call the breakwave FLESH
and the pebblerush we call SPIRIT
and thus it is
then we say let the SPIRIT be divided into the skybright
we will call LIGHT and the outsnuff we will call DARKNESS
and let DARKNESS bring about a great shitting upon the earth
and we say let DARKNESS herald
the downpull and the stenchsweet,
the dirtroost and the clutchheart
and so it goes
glory be to the skydeep and the bodyus
the curlsmoke and the skyswim
glory be to the breakwave and the pebblerush
the dirtroost and the outsnuff
for we are the MANY
we are the ONE
This morning found you capsized
and sinking in the campsite kitchen,
bloodless, clammy, haunted by the world
and all its doubles. They hauled you off
in their blue-light bus and I rode
beside, squeezed your shoulder tight,
willed you back to yesterday.
Drowning here, the reflected twin
of everything swims in your eyes,
pulls you far from reach. They wheel
you out and in, from scan to scan,
pump dye around your veins
and brain to find the chink
that let the shadows seep inside.
Hours slide behind
this green curtain and still
you get your sums wrong, still
believe in clones of fingers, faces, clocks
that press at the corners of your eyes,
maintaining they exist, insisting
on their right to be here.
Come back. We’ll grip the cliff edge
while the seal’s sleek head lifts
above the water’s surface, melts
to gloss again. Gannets will plunge,
gold-hooded, into the tidal race
and splash to scoop out cloud-marked
mackerel, flaring silver in the sun.
We’re all in the family way. Full of ourselves.
In the pudding club, my dear.
On our shelf, we gather dust like dandruff
and listen to the sound of human children
growing. Their girls – once born –
are great squishy, smelly things that pule
and puke and shit the sodding bed.
Not ours. We are a nest with all our pretty
chicks inside. We are the hatchling
and the egg. Each of us is mother
to a daughter who is pregnant
with the next in line. Our bodies rhyme,
like the faces of the moon.
All except our smallest.
We don’t talk about it but
let me say it softly:
she was born with no space
inside. That’s right.
She’s wood all the way
through. It’s not that we
judge her, understand, but
we know (as only
she’ll never get to split
herself in two,
she’ll never have
to bear the others
as we do.
starlings won Against the Grain Press’s competition in 2019 and has since been published in Fenland Poetry Journal: Issue 4, Spring 2021.
Tidal Race was shortlisted in the Live Canon Single Poem Competition 2020 and published in the Live Canon Anthology 2020.
Matryoshka was commended in the International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2021 and will shortly be published in the 2021 Hippocrates Prize Anthology.