Two Poems by Anna Saunders

The Prohibition of Touch

Recently I have been thinking about prohibition –
how the rich crammed their cellars with malts,

the poor made moonshine, bathtub gin and other
hessian hoochs, swallowing them like strips torn
off a monk’s cowl to lacerate their throats.

That’s what happens when you criminalise desire –
it goes underground, or only the rich get the silk of it.

Through my window I watch a man holding a girl.
Two months of isolation and skin hunger,
yet the already-coupled are well fed.

At those parties they slaked their droughty tongues
with rough liquor – the fire of it tearing down thought,
their brains burning like planets.

What happens now as we outlaw lips,
ban embraces –
where does all the contraband go?

I have been dreaming vividly during lockdown,
my mask-less mouth all nerve and chemical cocktail,

as I slug back memories of touch that I have stockpiled
in an illicit underground dive called Sleep.

Separated from the Sea

You kept me awake all night once.
What was it you were trying to tell me?

You spoke in a whisper, insistent and fearless
as rain against stone.

Quicksilver lover,
your mood changes as rapidly as mine,

you are mercurial as the weather,
take your colours from the sky.

At midnight you are black silk slapping
the shore, the next morning a trembling blue.

That night your lullaby rocked my keel like a crib,
but I didn’t sleep,

instead swayed on the balcony, an insomniac
listening to a distant tune.

When I say how much I miss you,
my voice mimics your sibilance
and the air is soon awash with waves.

Anna Saunders is the author of Feverfew (Indigo Dreams), 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). Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Read more here 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. Twitter: @AnnaSaund1

Banner Art: The Sea, The Sea. A VISPO by Robert Frede Kenter (c) 2021. Twitter: @frede_kenter

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