Two poems by Kate Noakes

Salomé in the mirror

I find myself calling for your head
on a brass platter from Bernese
the kind I can make into a table

I smile
I smile
manic       delighted

There will be no church
or mosaic shrine
on the spot where this happens

I smile
I smile
manic       delighted

I’ll take just your cheek       slashed
The slip of your occasional razor
will do it       for now

I smile
I smile
manic       delighted

You are no saint
and my veils are not translucent
I can’t dance that way anymore.
Penelope: identity theft

I chose the hardest fibres
to strip my skin
jute, copra

to slice the whorls
from my fingertips
hessian, raw flax.

I am weaving lead.

Forth, back
the shuttle flies
the cloth wefted red.

Right, left
the pedals tread
my legs, my legs.

Sundown, yards done
well, not yet.
I sink on my bed
my head, my head.

The clamour from
the waiting boys too much
“Wed me.” “No, me instead.”

In darkest night
I cut the warp and pull
unthread, unthread.

My new skin
pricks with dread.
Kate Noakes’ sixth collection is Paris, Stage Left (Eyewear, 2017). She was elected to the Welsh Academy in 2011 and her website ( is archived by the National Library of Wales.