Five Poems by Anna Saunders

I am pedigree I am snow fox I am Siamese.

In the asylum they shave off my fur
so they can electric me.
When I mew they show me a clump
of blond in a flat palm and I say
I am pedigree I am snow fox I am Siamese.
At night the janitor creeps into the ward
where I sleep without blankets – tells me
I should be on all fours. I used to lie
in a man’s lap, my belly rising and falling
like a swelling tide, my pink tips like
tiny gems, I’d try to sew myself
on him, my claws – glinting stitches.
When my warmth sent him under
I’d creep out into the dusk
bring back bloodied gifts
that I ripped down from the sky.
I brought a rat once, its entrails ribboning.
They say I have a severed self –
as if to love the warmth
of a soft cushioned room
and the spiked and musky dark equally
were an aberration. In the asylum
we are given cold meats.
I do not hunt because I am hungry.
He hit me when I brought the first mouse,
kicked me for the blackbird.
It’s not out of love
that I lay these trophies at his feet,
but I let him think so.

The Ghosts of Intimacy

I walk into my room and see a pair of gauzy creatures,
airborne, balletic in their intercourse
stitched together and inseparable,
a wavering, seamless, line of gossamer.

A translucent man and a woman –
moving in synchronicity, like two damson flies mating
above a lake,

the Ghosts of Intimacy – fucking above my bed,

I stand there watching them, me, a woman
who has never shared her home, now cohabiting
with these amorous, entwined spectres.

I cannot take my eyes away as they hang in the air
like butterflies above a bloom.

I am thinking how they could not get any closer
when in a quick dart she slips into him,

slides under his tracing paper skin, to be subsumed
into his heart as they soar above.

We do not get to choose what haunts us.
Here’s my phantoms-
they have moved into my empty rooms.

I watch them disregard the solidity of my walls
as they so effortlessly become one.

I Stole a Butterfly

carried him home under my shirt, a second heart

In my dark rooms I stripped,
wore him as a plumy brooch against my bare breast.

I laid out every flower from which he could feed,
gave him ripe fruit so he guzzled and swooned

but when he flew towards the window and battered
against the glass I pulled down the blinds.

I couldn’t blame him for wanting the wild flower meadows,
beauty draws its double

but I wanted him
with his mirrored wings, to reflect back only me.

He didn’t last long without light.
I found him cold – wings flat as a fresh new page.

I scooped him up too easily, expected something more
than a gaudy fallen feather.

Who would have thought he would be so weightless
when dead?

No one told me quite how much he needed the sky.

I still feel that extra heartbeat, hard against my chest.

Two Seasons with Prometheus

In spring, like Prometheus
I stole fire and enflamed my lover’s dark bed.

I carried it – a blazing creature
sprouting wings, gauzy feathers,
twitching as fast as a maniac’s tongue.

That same season I saw the bird come,
its wing span a frayed shadow,
its cry harsh as the caw of the crow
tinged with the sweetness of the robin.

And the name of the bird was love.

My soul – I was torn at by gold beaks,
The bird plucked my heart, as if it were tearing
ripe berries from a bush.

With time, my gouged heart healed.

That next summer I stole fire again.

Brought it to another lover like a spitting crown
like a seething, gold toothed mouth.

But the gods again bound me to rock,
cold spine of stone against the beads of my back.

And the bird came back.
Wings like blades hacking up the sky,
cry harsh as the caw of the crow.

A Fire Art

A pyrotechnic prophecy – the fireworks he watched
in the middle of the day,

a foretelling of a combustion to come
a pre-playing, like a dream before sleep.

I imagined what he would have seen –

gold and silver blooms swelling in the sky
gilt-edged peonies, sparkling sea anemones,

glinting orbs opening and closing like mouths,

each time emitting a sudden gasp of air as they grew,
a roar as they electrified the ether.

Later, in the dark alleys of the city
when the lamplight floods my face like moon glow
he turns to me –and ignites his gunpowder kiss.

Afterwards I remember how I had imagined our explosion
one morning, long before we set fire to the dark –

as if I had set off fireworks in the daytime
as a practise for the main show at night.

Anna Saunders @AnnaSaund1 is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox ( Indigo Dreams) Ghosting for Beginners ( Indigo Dreams), and the forthcoming Feverfew. ( Due Indigo Dreams Summer 2020). Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.   

Banner Art: “Waltzing”, a digital painting by Cathy Daley. Tweets: @CathyDaley1

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