Sharon Black

 

The last woman born on the island


(i)

She’s soft as a cot rag.
In the palm of your hand she’s
                                   
a comma, an apostrophe, plucked
from a passage written in wool.
                 
Tease her apart
and she’s smoke plume,

a child’s scribbled thundercloud.
She’s a snag of sheep,

the kind bred for centuries
on the edge of the world.

Her stink on your fingers lasts
long after you’ve put her aside.

She’s dark as night, as the pitch
into sleep, and the dreaming that follows –

that tide of remembering
most often forgotten by light.

 

(ii)

I’m soft as basalt, as a raven’s bill,
a wreck, a rare find. I fall straighter

than you might expect,
from hand to ground, from sound

to silence, an all-seeing pupil
under a shut lid.

Coaxed apart, you think you see
through me, but all you see’s

the other side: my heart’s
in each particle, each cell

of the bright lump in the black chest
of the island I’m from,

the one you’ll never find.
I’m nowhere, everywhere,

shedding sand
like grains of light.

 

(highly commended, Wigtown Poetry Competition 2016; shortlisted, The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016)

Copyright © Sharon Black 2017