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Sarah Holland



the poet

Sarah Holland is a writer, poet and meditation teacher living in rural England. She's a regular at the writing groups and open mics held by the Poetry Pharmacy, where she also teaches mindful writing practices. This is the very first time Sarah's poems have been published.

the poems


00:00 / 00:43

            The sly smile of flesh

            knows its own beauty.

            Somewhere, a naked body

            is screaming, sweating, still.

            It howls when uncapped 

            by sleeves, cold slicing bone,

            shocked by its own need to be covered.

            Now a lonely, lost landscape, blindly eroded.

            Tiny streams in rivulets you won’t remember weren’t always there.

            Your care of my nakedness is all I will ever know of love.

            When I’m next uncovered, I’ll no longer witness myself being seen.

Dress in Stars

00:00 / 02:06

                                The dress is clustered with flowers

                                join the lines between the nodes to

                             find her stories in the eyes of the stars.


                 Here I trace a girl standing proud in new folds of fabric

                          paid for by her own wreath-weaving hands.

                     The hem is hitched to her waist in a teenage tryst

                             the stars hold her heart when broken.


                       The dress becomes lazy, lounging in corners

                          forgotten for pyjamas and red-tipped hair

                               and freedom and pint-size laughter.

                            Notes are absent, margins full of rhyme.


                              The fabric sprawls dazed with travel

                   on a bugged bunk-bed. See here, a map of islands,

                    an elephant’s wrinkled ear, the currency of symbols

                                  smoke singing from the folds.

                                               The Bears

                        Here is a woman now, buying new dresses

                         from markets, city-chic, following rivers to

                               return to the ring where the bear

                       was tied to steps and she will sometimes wait.


                    The straps sting like cuts on reddened shoulders

                                 muddied by festival swamps.

                             Friends fade to twin with pole stars.

                Behind a closed door, the dress hangs limp and worn.


                     The dress has been lifted from sun-striped skin

                             a tigress released again and again

                        and again she curls alone into her warmth

                                  and swims the wide water.


                      Hold the dress as carefully as that first love

                          hang from a hook that drags the door

                     but remember to hope. There is still space in 

                    its starred sky amongst the moss-worn patches.


00:00 / 01:53

            I had remembered you wrong with a hoop in your ear

            but the curls were real that uncoiled from a cap 

            another woman pressed to your scalp.

            Coffee from a market stall instantly chilled

            as the wind whipped the steam to the

            gargoyles who supped it like breath.

            We chose a face for each of us

            and perhaps that was a gift,

            seeing how we would soon jeer 

            across the distance, bitterness spitting the air.

            I wanted you to ease me down the river on 

            a boat you had made, wade with me across

            the brown water. I thought it would be glassy, 

            our faces two stars reflected there.

            But we were just tourists, disappointed by 

            the churn of the silt and the slime and the mud,

            a memory punishing itself again and again.

            The bridge suspended us over floods

            that might have carried us to fences, flowers.

            We didn’t know we’d be sucked under,

            crushed by the wheels of a tour bus

            as a gargoyle cackled, ringing from a city’s tall tower.

            I scratch into stone with my nail 

            I don’t want to write these poems anymore

            but my blood obscures the words.

            I want to cup you in my palm

            feel your breath mist my skin.

            We played house in a home I thought had two beds.

            I still feel the warmth in our current as I flick fragments

            of stone into the ripples, sneers etched over smiles,

            but even though I’ve been here before, we are forever gargoyles.

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb

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