By Saskia Doherty

Soft gold and spins

In the closely pressed spaces

Between the sweat of palms

And ventricles


Drawn up by those of a different order

Others of a different stuff

Stuffed round fingers

I fill your cup and take a little from my own

Feeling a little cold, a little colder perhaps

Than I am allowed to in this moment

Bringing the sun down

To a gentle beat


The toeholds of frozen poses

A torch that searches for something to wrap

Its wandering self around

To grasp, to ground


Grandmothers say:

The world is a garden

And these shapes crystallise 

From the inside out


Thinking about it is like thinking about a house:

The room for breathing

The room for fire

The chamber for dreamsmell


And passages between like scurries of tunnels

Adjoining city hospitals

Leading eye to ear


Chambers beating the stone knell of cope and core

And blood by gnarled knuckles

By paper-thin veils


In her hand a frangipani,

She becomes a girl again


Her mother had five heart attacks:

One for each petal

For about 15 years I have been trying to remember her stories

And for about 15 years I have failed


Because I don’t know how to hold them

Without those curt interruptions when

The conversation does not go her way

Or those hands that treasure the objects

She attaches to each one


I mean this in a loving way

I mean it heavy-tongued and weary


I do not know how to treat them in my mouth yet

Like the tree in the backyard of the boarding house

That she would hide in and eat raw quinces

Before she learned that starch needs to be tempered

With slow warmth and tender


I turn them in my mouth like pith

Maybe they just don’t fit






Sometimes I think maybe her bodyweight is exactly equal to that of her stories

And the trick is to catch them before they go

Sliding down the sternum

And slipping out below


When she lived in a house with a woman called Ma

Eggshells fed the chickens

A circular transmutation

Calcium spinning back into guts

And dispersed to bone


Mentally tracing the curvature of each vertebrae

Remembering the routes of a well-worn story

Forget words for a while: we’ll sit

Where binaries don’t fit

His stories were always her stories

And her story theirs






Sometimes your name is very slippery

Like these quicksilver wrists

Arranging flowers just-so

As corpses power televisions

And mushrooms compost flesh

We have found so many ways to dispose of ourself


I am anticipating that bit

Where the dead character breathes

We register the rise and fall of the stomach

As their body once again takes shape

Like Schrodinger’s cat:

Nine lives


I hope my lungs are up to the task

And I hope I can learn my lines