StJohns won’t let the crowlight in, only sparrowbeams and antdark. StJohns is over-alive with noise – day and night, it never stops. Owlish stuffs her ears with balled-up toilet paper, buries her head under the sofa cushions. Dadward’s music is boom, booming in the speaker corners of every room except the kitchen, where Ma is crashing pots around to the scratchy voices of Radio 1. Tawny is engrossed in some kind of war, lining up infantry on the living room carpet, while LongEars clunks through the TV channels – hoping some interesting programme will magically appear.

StJohns, StJohns,
the shouting, thumping thrill of it,
the smoke and damp and fug of it,
the bread and meat and cake of it,
the higgledy-piggledy shelves of it.

NO crowlight here – though Owlish yearns for it the way she yearns for the shush-shush quiet places, the places she runs to after school – the friends’ houses stuffed full of delicious silences, the needle-soft whisper of the pinewoods, but not the big-forest-dark beyond the factories, no, that quiet is too-too sinister, too slow – though she knows in her heart that it might be a better place to find the lights and darks of her crow.



Julia Webb‘s third collection The Telling was published by Nine Arches Press in 2022. She is a poetry mentor and editor for Lighthouse. She is currently working on a series of collages called Flower Heads.