The Night I See Myself
The car is a parcel of breath;
the road unrolling
like a bolt of black crêpe.
I drive like I’m in green-screen
and nothing outside is real:
all I can see is a false moon
crowing at my shoulder,
and a curd of light behind the hills
where the town and the hospital lie.
Sometime soon I must dress myself in owl.
There I swoop, a pale winged glimmer,
my own face ghosting from the trees.
The City of Courage
The people here are tall as beacons.
They seem flat-faced and cold, like watered glass,
but at night they fold into their families,
light fires to find their deepest songs.
By such means, they say, the crust of the earth
is persuaded to yield its metals and its soul.
The land itself is soft and marshy. They build
palaces and temples on stands of sun-baked clay,
and bridges are made zig-zag, to offer homes
to ghosts. The roads have beds of cotton,
gutta-percha, brick-shaped glass; molasses
to bind the red and flighty sand.
Their greatest literature is carved on cliffs
three days’ ride away. Their art is terracotta panels
and slipware of stretched faces; while philosophy
is built into the corridors and quadrangles
of the senate. Here there are just three entrances,
guarded by dragon-headed sentries set in pairs.
In poetry, they strive for epic, but their lyric mode is small.
On rest days they study intricate buttons, or the corners
of green tables, listen to the spaces in the weft.
They have no religion, but they love the distant sea.
At daybreak their hands begin to tremble:
they dream of waking in white immaculate rooms.
Sally Douglas’s first collection, Candling the Eggs, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2011. She is currently working on a second collection and studying for a Creative Writing MA with Lancaster University. She was a winner in the 2017 Kent and Sussex Open Poetry Competition and won First, Third and Fourth Prizes in Poems on the Move, Guernsey’s 2017 International Poetry Competition judged by Gwyneth Lewis. Recent work has appeared in Tears in the Fence, Clear Poetry, and Antiphon. On Twitter she is @SallyDPoet.