Two poems by Vicki Feaver

You are not

You are not in the tulips,
not in their flailing stems
or shrivelled yellow petals
that alive you’d have painted;
not in the pearly wintry sky
or the scarred slopes of the hill
that before your legs failed
you’d have climbed;
not in the spiky firs
or eddies and swirls of the river
or in its still sandy pools
where in your youth
you’d have swum;
not in the beginning drizzle of snow,
or in the deer that hangs
in the larder with black hooves
and long delicate legs,
not in its heart or liver
that we ate last night for supper
and you would have relished.

I don’t know where you are
who loved all the things I love
and who I remember hauling
out of the bath – tugging
on arms that I was afraid
of pulling from their sockets –
then drying and helping to dress
and guiding down slippery stone steps
to watch flycatcher chicks
leaving the nest, hearing
the peep peep peep
of their mother’s warning call.
The Witches

My sister’s screams
brought Mummy running:
Did you push her?
They drove to the hospital
leaving me alone in the house.

I read a book by the window.
until I couldn’t see the words.
Too scared to turn on the light,
I watched ghostly white roses
disappear into the dark.

Once, in a fever, I’d dreamed
of the witches who lived in the loft
flying through the hatch.
Now they were crouched
behind the wings of my chair.

I tried not to breathe,
pretending to be dead
like the stone girl in the churchyard
or my sister if all the blood
rolled out of her leg.

If she died, people
would think I was sad.
The witches knew the truth –
smelling my wickedness
with huge hooked noses.
(both poems from Vicki Feaver’s forthcoming (2015) collection from Cape Poetry, provisionally titled I Want! I Want!)
Vicki Feaver lives in South Lanarkshire. Her last collection The Book Of Blood was short-listed for the Forward and Costa Prizes.