Damascene describes the field in moonlight
we have to look the word up in the dictionary

to ornament (e.g. iron or steel) with wavy patterns.
Your sister is colouring SpongeBob

in her SpongeBob Christmas colouring book.
She sits at my desk in the swivel chair and I tell her

she looks like a real professional. She concentrates
on keeping the felt tip within the lines

colouring the tiny fairy lights on the Christmas tree
and I carry on reading the bedtime story.

Your dyslexic mind understands words
like damascene but can’t read them on the page.

I was always hiding in books, hiding from things
my nine year-old self could not yet begin to comprehend

and I learned from reading.
Watership Down taught me about survival

that strength and resilience can be found
in the unlikely of places. I watch you, my children

learning the hard way, chipping away at words
like little birds trapped under the ice.

Rachel Burns is a poet and playwright living in the north-east and published widely in literary magazines including South, Brittle Star, Ambit, Obsessed with Pipework and The Interpreter’s House. In 2016 she won second place in The Writers’&Artists’ sonnet competition judged by Ruth Padel.






The ice has shifted
opened up a hole.
Glass hangs heavy
from the rooftops.
Small feet skate
in circles of time
as Siberian winds
descend, freeze
the edges of snow.



Sue Wallace-Shaddad now concentrates on writing poetry after a long career with the British Council. She is Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society (SPS), has had work published in anthologies, SPS and British Council in-house magazines.