Kitty Donnelly

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the poet

Kitty Donnelly's first collection, The Impact of Limited Time, was joint-winner of Indigo Dreams Publishing's Collection Competition. Her second book, In Dangerous Hours, was published by the same house. Kitty won a Creative Future Award in 2019, and was nominated for a Jerwood Compton Fellowship in 2021. Her background is Irish, she lives in Yorkshire, and when she's not writing, Kitty works as an NHS Psychiatric Nurse. She cares for several rescued cats and dogs, and has just completed her first novel.

the poems

High

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            An arctic tern will fly 10,000 miles

            to flourish in two summers worth of light;


            so I was high after he died, chasing

            sun on the wing, though directionless.


            I swallowed three green capsules every night,

            peristalsis pulsing them


            through my scorched oesophagus.

            I took what I could get


            to alter consciousness,

            testing my fragmented sense of time


            against the wall clock’s competence

            till dawn was salmon red


            & gutted on the banks of the horizon.

            I was not or even near myself.

Kingfisher

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            It was a sign: pure lapis on the post

            plunged into canal sediment.


            It surveyed its territory, paused & darted

            under Lock 9, a featherweight


            jewel flicked on the wind.

            Returning fishless, its head revolved


            towards the glass where I stood,

            museum-frigid: my first live kingfisher.


            I should have tailed its poem

            through the frosted dawn’s distemper.


            It was tempting me to follow it by pen,

            to know it vivid & separate


            from ossified kin: that feathered

            gift of indurated velvet


            with scratched black beads for eyes,

            whose twiggy box I switched


            for football cards,

            unable to stand the cloy of mould,


            too old to poke my finger in the rag-hole.

            Now it had risen: fallen constellations


            etched across each wing,

            it was urging me to drown my work bag,


            unlace my boots, and flit with it

            through the waterlogged morning.

Test Results

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            You’re writing for your life,

            there’s no mistaking it.


            Your fingers move in window-light,

            ears closed to all but music.


            Coffee's heat evaporates,

            a shaft of sun bisects the page,


            the Biro quivers in your fingers.

            Everything you strived to say


            is translating itself.

            Previous verse: untrained lightening.


            Illness has earthed you,

            conducting your tongue.

Publishing credits

High: Ink Sweat & Tears

Kingfisher / Test Results: exclusive first publication by iamb