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Elisabeth Sennitt Clough



the poet

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough is the author of the 2017 Saboteur Awards Best Pamphlet winner Glass, and the editor of the Fenland Poetry Journal. Her debut collection Sightings won her the Michael Schmidt Award, while At or Below Sea Level was a 2019 Poetry Book Society Spring Recommendation. Elisabeth has also written The Cold Store and My Name is Abilene, which is shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best Collection 2023. Elisabeth's poems have appeared in Poem, The Rialto, Mslexia, Wasafiri, Magma, The Cannon’s Mouth, Ambit and Stand among others.

the poems

There was a door
& then a door

Poem beginning with a line by Ocean Vuong

00:00 / 00:54

                        The second door was oak, brawny

                        with a heavy-duty handle & latch, the sort

                        that could mutilate a child’s hand if pushed

                        too much. This is how thresholds are reinforced

                        in farming country. Give your prayers to the sky.

                        The neighbours are out of earshot.

                        What could a flappy city girl know

                        about the ebb of backwaters? People here

                        read shotgun holes like exegesis. 

                        Old mail piles up. All letterboxes are sealed shut.

                        Some days even the windows shudder.

                        Everyone’s forgotten the first door.


00:00 / 01:22

                        In a hardbacked book with charcoal-grey covers

                        in an attic, above a small bedroom,

                        next to an illustration, the error of a typeface

                        places a hole in a word, His terid,  

                        so that it becomes owned. You are mine 

                        says the pronoun to the beetle.

                        But the neglectful parent had let his terid go,

                        its skinny legs toddling beneath its round belly

                        in-between legs in crowded market places,

                        through garden fences to the edge-of-town

                        industrial estate and beyond – the place 

                        where all lost things end up –  

                        the Gymnasium of the Forgotten. There

                        his terid crouches on a varnished floor

                        at the end of a long wooden bench,

                        next to Arthur, who’s sat next to Tom,

                        willing someone to sight him, make a call 

                        from the black telephone: Hello, Mr England, 

                        we have located your terid, reported missing

                        and suspected extinct in 1936. 

                        Please come and collect. 

The Arse-end
of Summer

00:00 / 01:01

                        Like warlords, the neighbour’s firs cast darkness 

                        across my lawn. So much in my garden

                        promised to blossom but never did. 

                        A section of wasp nest dangles 

                        from a tree like a slice of dried meat.

                        The splatter of an heirloom tomato 

                        still decorates next door’s patio

                        beneath a sign: trespassers will be composted.

                        A wood pigeon repeats itself four times.

                        I mimic it twice. Sunday afternoon alone 

                        in a rose-less garden, still in my nightie – 

                        maybe I’m no longer alive, but don’t realise? 

                        A motorbike engine growls out the miles

                        over cracked asphalt, past wheelie bins

                        stinking of yesterday’s burnt ends.

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb


S h a r e

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