Yule Tide

The sky burns trotter pink,
bladder blue, a skein
of golden chicken skins
pulled taut by giant needles.

Up on the hill the grass grows
as white as my hair, cold
fistful and clumped. I
stalk alone, muttering.

Ancient witches cartwheel
in energetic fury along
the dry skyline, their shadow bones
finger thin and twisting.

I watch them: layer on layer
of charcoal, grey and silt;
rice paper fine, pirouetting
against the setting sun.

* Charlotte Gann's The Long Woman was published recently by Pighog Press.  She's had work in The Rialto, The North and Magma, among others.

Frost bite

Hidden from ice scabbed windows
I squat by the slats in the fence wrapped
in Christmas paper –
a hotchpotch of holly and ivy
rolled, sellotaped, tied with ribbbon.
Under its crackle breath drains
my blanched face, Siberian eyes latch shut
to keep out the wind. I want to claw
my way out, see birds swollen with snow

swoop from the coast, hang around houses
in huddles of feathers, trampling on roofs,
gutters, grass; a whole assembly
grubbing for worms, stale bread, sultanas.
They’re too loud; I bury my ears in drifts.
If you tear me open I’ll bare, what’s left

is a torn upper lip hoisted like a sail,
its gash all that remains of a smile.
You tell me not to worry; spring will come,
fill my body with flames. But the evening
is biting and I’m unwrapping: my ivy wilting
and the holly has hitched up her skirt and is
running as fast as she can down the garden.

*Abegail Morley is guest poetry editor at The New Writer. Her collection How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (Cinnamon
2009) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize  Best First Collection
(2010); the title poem was previously nominated for the Best Single
Poem. Her second collection
Snow Child is published by Pindrop Press.