Selected Poems | Susannah Violette

Milk Fever

my mind is with the autumn larch
its saffron needles hot and burning

my chest is a furnace
an oven, two saucepans
boil over and scald

one empty and one full
the lives I carry
in molten silver arms
the larch makes pins of them
with its thin fingers

shadows crochet the den
she is there again, the fox

if I weren’t carrying such a load
I would stroke that fiery cheek
body and tail, round like a Russian hat

she knows what it is to burn

around us the forest foams
blossoms bubble up
the crests of green waves

the wild cherry knows the snow
mimics it with white blooming flakes

the cold was not long ago
my loneliness reaches for it

unmade cherries weep white tears


outside my window
before dawn
something was born, or died,
a hen perhaps? a rat?

—fox and her cool paws

midwife it

morning fills me blue
swallows litter me like the sky
their wings are scissors

her voice was a nail
a hessian flower in bloom
rough, a hedgerow altar
she prayed like a briar would

her barbs bring me the day
loneliness swaddles the tip
of a pine needle, slender grey

her language stuck to me
became tar and feathers
whatever died knew her gall
she made an urn for their soul
from her ecstatic screeching

only now do I wonder
if the death was her own
or whether she was making love

or both

Cold Snap

the flower open, slack jawed
held in its purple mouth
the burly velutinous body of a bee

she had died there

when death is all you dream of
the flowers will lap you up
their colourful silk wet with dew
from root to loud beak
they will have you

her shining whip of a tongue
was still buried in nectar
drinking deep, a sugar flow
a river that carried her away
I touch her fur and

think of the slowed snake
how its length lugs the cold
into the agitated grass
unexpected and unwelcome

and fireflies too
dim their lovely light
there is no holding
the bleak night back

the moon hides

the wind breathes us brittle

Susannah Violette was recommended in the Westival International Poetry Prize, shortlisted for the Frogmore poetry prize and coast to coast to coast pamphlet competition. She has appeared in various online publications worldwide.