It takes real skill to look both ways.
Notice how I keep an eye on yesterday
whilst deftly skipping over today
onto the thin ice of tomorrow.

I know thresholds, those small events
that happen between here and there.
A small movement and things become,
or end, or twist on hooks of possibility.

Here are their gifts of bread and coal
to appease the cold ghosts of winter.
The slug trail of party poppers to
mark the pathway to a stilled house.

I am at the door that opens or closes
to keep something in or out. I am
the push or pull of air that pistons
on the heart of a transformation.

An old year, a new year, the midnight
when the lock is oiled with promises.
I hunker down on the step and listen
for the key, the slow turn of time.

*Andrea Porter’s collection A Season of Small Insanities is published by Salt. She is also a member of The Joy of Six Poetry group. She has completed one novel and is up to her eyes in the next.

campsite poem
january first

in the drift of another hard summer
we camp out in the shelter. from here
we can watch the baboons creature
around the dry riverbed, scooping
up water from the holes we dig

in the sand; watch the tortoises
smash open on the slope, their surprise
at our trap lost in the glitter of carapace.

nothing is simple about returning.
in the mornings we drink tea matted
with sugar; in the afternoons we study
field guides. i play with antlions, endlessly.
we wash with dust, we make fire, 
and on new year's eve we take stock
of the stars and with your smart knife
you cut a brush and you repaint them.

sandstone is a strange canvas.
the ink sighs into the grain  –
i imagine a microscope would show
cells grafted together like salt pans,
where runny red ochres mount

and flood and dry – and then, one day, all
the uncertainties of your pen will flake away,
leaving a reading fabricated from stains.

*marcelle olivier
is a South African-born writer and archaeologist living in Cambridge,
UK. You can read more of her poetry in, amongst others, Oxford Poetry,
New Contrast,
and Carapace.