If I’d smuggled you through the Search Tank, past the dogs – Avril Joy

If I’d smuggled you through the Search Tank, past the dogs

persuaded them, made them listen in their offices and their conference halls
bought a bicycle and a Tannoy, made the streets ours.
If I’d taken up your letting cup, tipped blood backwards to your veins
ironed your crumpled skin like a skirt smooth at its seams, like a skirt for dancing in.
If I’d opened the prison gates and let them swing
torn down fences, dug tunnels like POWs.
If I’d given you a notebook of swanskin embossed with your name
if we’d sipped tea together from porcelain,
the space around us grown to cathedrals.
If I’d shown you the lacing pattern of leaves, the still pillow of night over hills
bought the day like heroin and banished dreams
if we’d eaten papaya and mango fresh from their trees.
If we’d swum in the Indian ocean
thrown ourselves at waves resisting undertow.
If we’d stood on stilts like stilt fisherman, like Jesus on his cross
guarding the children lost; at sea.
If I’d shown you how the world can sometimes be.


Avril Joy’s poem Skomm won first prize in the York Literary festival, competition 2019. Poems have appeared in Strix, Ink Sweat&Tears, Dream Catcher and Snakeskin. She is currently writing a sequence of poems reflecting on twenty-five years spent working in a women’s prison to be pub in Sept 2019 by Linen Press wwwavriljoy.com

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