Self-Portrait With Sylvie – Kitty Coles

Self-Portrait With Sylvie

Your yellow eyes grow
and shrink with the tides of the moon,
expand like onions, bulbous globes of light.
You press your spine
against my thigh so closely
our bodies seem to fuse, blur
at the edges, and your fierce heat
infects my worm-white flesh.
You hold my hand
in your arms, against your belly,
and you are supple like the lushest velvet.

I can’t get up today.
The pain is spreading
behind my eyes like mould,
malignant bloom.
My clothes are fumy with sweat,
the odours of cooking onions
and rank cumin.
My face melts in the mirror,
drips like tallow,
streams down my bones, greyly, unstoppably.
Only your palms, like petals, keep me whole.

 

Kitty Coles lives in Surrey. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017. www.kittyrcoles.com

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The Wolf At The Door – Kitty Coles

The Wolf At The Door

At the full of the moon,
I hear his long nails scratching
against the doorframe,
and his quiet whine,
its syllables
his rough approximation,
his lupine effort,
to pronounce my name.

You think his nails
must be the fingers of trees,
tapping and scraping
at our bricks and mortar.
You think his whine
must be the wind
in their branches
and the yellow beams
that slide between the shutters
must be moonlight,
not the light of his wet eyes.

He is stirring my skin
and setting my blood
on edge. His shadow
creeps on the wall
like Nosferatu.
My tongue lies furred
and still with his silences.

When I open the door,
stars blaze
behind my eyelids.
A rush of dry leaves
blows in, its decrepit odours.
He stands on hind legs,
like a man,
coat thick and bloody.
His jaws drip freely
with their offering.

What is that gift he holds,
where did he find it,
why must I take it in my gooseflesh hands?

 

Kitty Coles is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in August 2017.  www.kittyrcoles.com

The Girl of Paper – Kitty Coles

The Girl Of Paper

The wind blows through her, through
her thin white surface.
It rattles coldly in her vacant stomach.
It lifts and hurls her
hard against the walls.

On rainy days, she’s sodden,
pieces peeling
from her perimeters, leaving her frayed.

The sun curls up her edges,
turns her yellow.
It penetrates her lungs,
her cold white heart,
makes her feel cindery and light
as ash.

When she wants,
she can curl small,
fold up, fold up,
and slip between the pages of a book,
into a purse,
under a tongue, a foot,
slide silently away under a door.

 

Kitty Coles is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, will be published in August 2017.  www.kittyrcoles.com

Featured Publication – Seal Wife by Kitty Coles

Our featured publication for January is Seal Wife by Kitty Coles, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Seal Wife uses stories and characters taken from folktales, fairy tales and myths to explore themes of loss, longing and transformation.

‘Kitty Coles submerges herself in the world of myth, fairy tale and legend to meld together personal, natural and supernatural worlds. Teeming with dramatic imagery, these poems reflect a remarkable, and at times, macabre imagination. An exciting first collection that will, like the persona in The Doe-Girl , ‘leave tracks, like tidy hearts, behind’.’ Maggie Sawkins

‘This is a confident poetry, dextrous in its unforced appropriation of allegorical and mythic tropes…Not unlike Ian Duhig’s ‘The Lammas Hireling’, Seal Wife achieves a powerful lift-off into the strange, the occult and the preternatural. Never less than convincing, this is an impressive debut highly worthy of our attention.’ – Martin Malone

seal wife

 

Ragnarok

He will not go quietly, this old red autumn.
The sunsets burn like flares at the horizon.
The air is weighted with the stink of pyres.
Blight makes the leaves surrender, dry and fall.

The river has unseamed the banks and risen
across the fields, made moats around the trees.
Above the mountain, the clouds coagulate.
They turn themselves to blackness, choke the stars.

And we, revolving in our draughty heaven,
dwindle like wasps when winter thins their stores.
I will see you again on the other side of the water.
Our sustenance will be the morning dew.

 

The Doe-Girl

She had always been timid,
reticent, secretive,
wide-eyed, easily startled
by sudden noises,
thin-legged, fond of woodland,
prone to running.

One day, she sensed a pressure
in the skull. Antlers
emerged, puny at first,
malformed.
Her ears lengthened
and her eyes, once blue,
turned black all over,
like ink spreading through water.

Now, we glimpse her sometimes,
moving between tree-trunks,
across clearings,
wary, at a distance.
Her hooves leave tracks,
like tidy hearts, behind.
She vanishes, silent,
among leaves,
dapples of light.
We don’t think she knows us
any more.

 

The Seeds Of The Pomegranate

have a perfumed flavour, biting and luscious,
streak the wrists with fluid.
Their juice marks cloth almost indelibly.

We share a fruit. You halve it and the blade
forces apart the grisly mass of jewels.
You hack, they bleed, fight to retain their wholeness.

You feed me arils from your guilty fingers.
Their smell is winey, green, but I think
of my flesh, the cysts beading its centre.

My mother scours the city
as we lie here. I am lost to her light.
My mouth is full of your gift.

 

Seal Wife

The weather turns.
A wind from the north has flown in,
with its violent curse,
and it raises the waves
till I cannot shut out their yowling.

The old scars itch on my flank,
disquieted.
The hairs on my spine rise up
in the chill that presses
itself under the door,
an insinuating ghost.

The cat has wound herself
to an endless running
from one end of the house to the other,
poor bristling devil.

The grass is aching with frost.
Birds fall, small toys,
from the trees in their deaths.
The cold is murderous.

In the churchyard, the drowned
walk at noon as if it were night.
They return to old beds,
slip in by their frozen wives.

And I am numbing myself
with my baking, my stitching, by washing
the floors till the stone begins to thin.
I hide my face from the mirror:
its enquiry threatens.
If I could forget, the water could not claim me.

 

Previous publication credits are ‘Ragnarok’ – The Cro Magnon, The Seeds of the Pomegranate – The Interpreter’s House, and Seal Wife – Obsessed with Pipework. 

Kitty Coles lives in Surrey and works as a senior adviser for a charity supporting disabled people. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She is one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her first pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017. Her website is  www.kittyrcoles.com

Seal Wife (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2017) may be purchased from: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/kitty-coles/4593990487