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Ruth Wiggins



the poet

Ruth Wiggins, a British poet based in London, has had her work published in journals and anthologies at home and abroad. Her first pamphlet, Myrtle, was published by The Emma Press; her second, a handful of string, by Paekakariki. Ruth's first full collection, The Lost Book of Barkynge – a lyric history of Barking Abbey – will be published by Shearsman Books in 2023.

the poems


00:00 / 01:34

                              The  feral  dogs  can  smell   the glitch inside

                              the  cardboard  box  –  two salvaged female

                              pups, not  yipping  much, as they are carried

                              across    the    unadopted   lot,    their   sister

                              discarded   on   the   sidewalk.   The  tourists

                              (like  us  they are  here,  and yet they are not)

                              can't quite get with the programme. We have

                              three weeks on them and watch as they make

                              for the  grocery store, cardboard crib fading

                              in  their  arms.  Next morning, we  see  them

                              outside the temple.  The pups have spent the

                              night in a tee shirt,  dining on peas and tuna.

                              A food bowl improvised  from the bottom of

                              a  bottle,  moulding not  unlike their mother's

                              paw print.  They have a sign that reads – TO

                              TAKE – a little heart to encourage the monks

                              and stallholders. But no one wants a girl pup.

                              In  the  National Gallery  behind  Sükhbaatar

                              there  is  a bust entitled Give Me a Daughter.

                              Give  me  a daughter,  one with a soft-furred

                              belly,  fat   with  peas  and  tuna.  Make  her

                              golden eyed  and skittle legged,  and with a

                              bark to raise the dead.


From Playing the Bear

00:00 / 01:12

                                    Do you feel my weight

                                    pressing on the atmosphere?

                                    Out here, circling.

                                    Jointed with stars, my

                                    dazzling exile. Not to touch

                                    the Earth, nor wet my toes –

                                    Hera's vow, extracted

                                    from the Ocean. But gingerly

                                    the Earth shifts its hip

                                    and I am dipped, a claw

                                    to prise off the lid,

                                    to get at something sweet.

                                    As one entering

                                    sacred water

                                    I will tear away the sky

                                    and climb back in.

                                    Your woods recede,

                                    do you think of me?

                                    The girl that once ran

                                    at your Virgin side.

                                    Me, who could bend the bow

                                    like no other, spit

                                    olive pits

                                    further than the rest.

                                    O thumb away

                                    the black smudge upon my lip

                                    kiss me again,

                                    the winner.

K is for Keats

00:00 / 01:17

                  In bright white sparks      I try to pick      your whole name

                                        from the night

            sparkler in my hand     the whip

                                                     of the upright

                    the K that is gone     the K that is velar plosive      tongue

                                                     against soft palate

                                        pulmonic consonant      after which

                    all airflow ceases    gone before the flourish of

                              t into s    really takes in the air

                                       And so instead    I slip you

            finger deep   into estuary

                                          mud that holds you

                        holds until tide     yearning to be held by reeds    steals

                                                                  back into the creek

                                          lifts you out to sea

            how cease holds the sea      which does not cease

                                   how cease holds the sea      holds the sea

                                                                        which does not cease

Publishing credits

Daughters: The Poetry Review (Vol. 108, No. 4)

Kallisto / K is for Keats: exclusive first publication by iamb


S h a r e

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