Two poems by Wendy French

This Way or That

peregrine falcons dived                 round our heads
that time we climbed Snowdon

my mother’s voice from the middle of the night

Remember to feed your father in the kitchen –
sleep well
                her voice comes in and out
and I thought this is how it should be

camping near Snowdon in the old farmer’s field
the horse lame                 once we were there
and my father in the night – whispered

he was going to die – but you’re dead already
                sometimes we hear the wind and sometimes
a whisper         we’ve climbed Snowdon fearful

we’d never reach the bottom again
                or see the grass veer
to the left of the footpath

and the sooner we realise                 there’s not much
except the sound of grasses
                blown around the mountain oak

the sooner we might let sleep drift
allow dreams in


Open as wide as you can, she said, and the girl stretched her mouth from the O of the hole in a polo mint, to the O of an orange, to the O of a child’s paddling pool, to the O of the mouth of the cave where Rip Van Winkle slept for all those years, to the O of the den where the slaves were thrown to the lions, to the O of the , to the O of the , to the o of the abyss of the black hole that had started it all off anyway. The black hole in your tooth, she said, is so huge that not even light can escape. No wonder you’ve got toothache. With this she prodded and pushed and gasped as one by one the instruments in her hand disappeared in the girl’s mouth and into the hole. There’s a point of no return. The dentist slid through the vacuum into the hole. What about my tooth? The girl asked.

Wendy French has two chapbooks and three collections of poetry published, Splintering the Dark, Rockingham Press 2005, and surely you know this (the title taken from a Sappho fragment) tall-lighthouse, 2009 and Thinks Itself A Hawk, Hippocrates Press 2016. Her collaboration with Jane Kirwan resulted in the book Born in the NHS published 2013 by Hippocrates Press. She won the Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine prize for the NHS section in 2010 and was awarded second prize in 2011. She has worked for the past twenty years in healthcare settings and schools helping adults and children to find their creativity. She was Poet in Residence at the UCH Macmillan Centre from April 2015-2016.

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