A Wrap of Ice – Emma Lee

A Wrap of Ice

The ice-hockey blades feel unnatural:
short, rounded and blunt, but stiff boots
and the sound of metal on ice reassured.
I was used to elegance on a blade’s edge
rather than a huddled dash grasping a stick.
The cold was welcome, familiar.
A few days before I’d stood on a glacier.
Reminded myself this would be my home
climate if it weren’t for the Gulf Stream.
A group from the southern hemisphere
shivered in thermals, hats, gloves, scarves
and anything they could wrap themselves in,
like the intricate layers of padding put on
in a set order by hockey players to prevent
chafing and inducing clumsiness, unlike
a figure-skater’s minimal costumes warmed
by movement. Their sun would burn me.
They slither back to the bus and shot of spirits.
Before following, I touch the ice for luck.


Emma Lee’s publications include “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). “The Significance of a Dress” Arachne (2020). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” is Poetry Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for other magazines and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

The Doll without Blue Eyes – Emma Lee

The Doll without Blue Eyes

A mother ordered a doll: golden haired
and blue-eyed but it arrived with green eyes
and darker hair, skin pale rather than rosy.

The mother didn’t correct the mistake,
but ordered another, a boy, who did
have blue eyes and golden hair.

The mistake wasn’t allowed to forget
or speak in public, except to praise.
No one would dispute maternal love.

The mother dressed the girl in odds
and ends and blamed her for not
looking her best or for being too pale.

The mistake taught herself not to blush,
to remain silent, sponged up the blame
even when it was the golden boy’s fault.

She grew up in a locked display case,
that shrank each year so she restricted
her growth and learnt how to pick locks

until she was skilled enough to escape
and took her secrets with her until
she learnt the mother’s shame was not hers.


Emma Lee’s most recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, UK 2015), she co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, UK, 2015), reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

The Quilt with 598 Squares – Emma Lee

The Quilt with 598 Squares

Mayurathy Perinpamoorihy, Amandeep Kaur Hothi, Helen Skudder, Anita Harris,
Agnieszka Dziegielewska, Sandra Boakes, Penny Ann Taylor, Raheela Imran,

Sylvia Rowley-Bailey is stitched in pink beads
on Laura Ashley-style fabric. She was sitting
at her computer when found with twenty-three
knife wounds, deemed only worth five years
because she “nagged” her partner and murderer.

Laura Wilson, Kerry Smith, Claire Parrish, Hollie Gazzard, Gail Lucas,
Camille Mathurasingh, Natasha Trevis, Carol French, Rachael Slack, Victoria Rose

A gold crescent moon and stars adorn a navy patch
for a teacher and author, Julie Ann Semper.
Her boyfriend was “too anxious” to attend court.
The judge warned he’d enter
a guilty plea and try him in his absence.

Kayleigh Palmer, Yvonne Davies, Mariam Mohdaqi, Kate McHugh, Karren Martin,
Paula Newman, Annie Beaver, Desirie Thomas, Eystna Blunnie, Sally Harrison

“This was an isolated incident,” say the police.
Neighbours and colleagues say
he “was hard-working, loving dedicated”
and he “should not be remembered
for his actions on that day.”

Nazia Aktar, Taylor Burrows, Sally Cox…
What were their stories?
Cerys Yemm, Farkhanda Younis, Svetlana Zolotovska.
Who speaks for those whose voices were murdered?


(The Women’s Quilt, during 2009-2015, 598 women were killed by a current or former
partner. Full list of names available at www.femicidecensus.org.uk)

Emma Lee’s most recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015), reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

Metallic butterflies can’t fly – Emma Lee

Metallic butterflies can’t fly

The robin chirps a warning: I’m in his territory.
I don’t leave so he flies down to investigate.
I wonder what he makes of me using a picker
to transfer sweet and cigarette wrappings from the ground
to a black sack. Relief this unnatural stuff
is gone or the robin equivalent of an eye-roll?
There’s nothing here he can nest with.
The picker clangs on something metal
and I drag it out from the shrubs for a better look:
a tea light holder designed to be hung like a lantern
and decorated with metal, white-painted butterflies.
The robin cocks his head, his eyes watch me
now he’s close enough for me to grab.
I get the wrappers: redundant, they’re just
dropped by people too lazy to use the bins,
too idle to think of consequences.
But this lantern took planning: someone
purposely brought it to the park, searched
for somewhere to hide it and dumped it
probably rearranging the shrubbery as cover.
I wonder why whoever it was didn’t use
their ingenuity to photograph it, stick it
on a boot sale app and earn a little extra
money instead. It must have been an unwanted
gift, the butterflies too frivolous,
the white too bright to fit a desired image,
‘lost’ a better explanation than ‘sold’.
It doesn’t fit here either: too small to house
a nest, too flimsy to support food and birds.
It goes in the litter bag. I move on.
The robin returns to his tree.


Emma Lee’s recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She was co-editor for “Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015). She reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com