Three poems by Maria Taylor

Tracing Orion

You were already fully grown
and frolicking with lovers
under the stars, around the time
when I used my rough book
to trace constellations at night.
I’d recite names like magic spells:
Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka.
The hunter’s body in space
impossible to touch.

You in the middle of nowhere
fumbling with straps in the dark.
Me in a box room. Star-gazing.
(first published in The Rialto)

Natasha is sixteen, drunk on Flemish Beer.
She sobs and giggles, loudly threatens
to jump into the English Channel.

Roll your eyes. Comfort hungover Amy
who threw up outside the large window
of the hypermarché restaurant. Leave her.

Hang around with a walkman on deck.
Pretend you’re in a pop video. Mime at grey.
Forget the rows of white crosses in Ypres.

Vow to get further than any of them.
Be different. Pause. Breathe in salted air.
Go back to the girls with sore heads.

Watch the milky light of England rise.
See everything in front of you, fogged.
Feel the land’s pull, its terrible magnet.
(first published in The Warwick Review)
Anna of The Fisheries

Not for the hungry who enter the shop
leaving fingerprints on everything,
or for her uncle, her tutting boss,
will she scrub the fryer’s chrome
till it’s a mirror for her forced smile.

Not for salt & vinegar tears over chips,
for a labourer’s fish supper wrapped
in inky pages from a Daily Mail,
or for teddy boys in brothel creepers,
will she gather tips in a coffee jar.

Not for gossip with backcombed wives
will she wear her alchemist’s overalls.
Home is seven days away on a ship.
Anna drops slabs of cod into bubbling oil
and waits for batter to turn into gold.
(first published in Drifting Down the Lane: Art and Poetry Explorations, ed. A. Marton and H. Lawler, Moon and Mountain 2013).
Maria Taylor’s poems have appeared in a range of magazines, including The Rialto, Magma and The North. Her debut collection Melanchrini (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize in 2013. She blogs at