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.
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.
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.
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.