Featured Publication – apple, fallen by Olga Dermott-Bond

Our featured publication for May is apple, fallen by Olga Dermott-Bond, published by Against the Grain Poetry Press.

Olga Dermott- Bond’s superb poems make their way towards searing emotion via craft,
detailed observation and a kind of glittering acceptance that the world we have is the world we must write about and the job of the poet is to make art from the flawed things around us. These poems reward rereading and hang around in your mind, delivering phrases and lines back at you at unexpected times that turn out to be the times you need them most.’ Ian McMillan
Vivid and Powerful‘ Ana Sampson McLaughlin
olga5

 

apple, fallen

Her smile is waxed water, curved perfect and full.
Sleeping in grass-hush, she fits herself perfectly,
a wise moon dressed only in pearled skin and sugar.
She is open as a lake, offering a steady reflection to
gospelled branches above that sway love-heavy,
growing with all of her hope-laden daughters –

her smashed skull is a restless shattered crawling
of ferment, made only of wasps that cling to shrinking
edges. she is a cave of black static, her crabbed body
hollowed beyond blood. a boat silenced with dry land,
she has sunk her own tongue, devoured her eyes, cheeks,
swallowed the blameless sun. there is only this place –

………………………….turn me over before you ask how I am.

 

Toaster

Each Sunday morning
the bread would often get stuck
or launch itself high

across the kitchen
where dad would catch it, juggling
each flapping bird with

blackened wings. His dance
made us laugh. Tea, marmalade,
homemade jam, honey –

again and again
we would wait for its metalled
cough, to watch salmon

leaping through currents
of sun. I ate six slices
one weekend, enthralled

with how happiness
was the colour of butter,
best eaten hot. Toast.

I believed I could
save each tiny crumb of you,
thinking aged just four

that every Sunday
would stay like this, love landing
soft, the right way up.

Previously published in Ten Poems about Breakfast (Candlestick Press)

 

……………..Fionn courts Oonagh

……………..Harebell

The first time he came to see her after work
it had rained a misery of tales all day,
her mother’s kitchen shrunk, shrivelled at the thought
……………………………………………………………………..……of a visitor

his shoulders sleeping boats anchored deep beneath
an old raincoat, scarcely covering shyness
that she wanted to undress, mind skittering
………………………………………………..…like a leveret –

her book-learning left far from this equation,
cleverness something she was used to hiding,
conjugating verbs a witch’s trick she could
………………………………………perform in her sleep.

Daylight chased from the doorway he ducked under
she stood as sudden moonlight, wondering if
he would sweep all the plates of the table, lift
………………………………………….it clean with one hand –

instead he took harebells from his pocket,
purple-slight flowers, brimming with wet-hedge smell,
held them outstretched, their modest heads trembling wild,
………………………………………………………………..…..a beautiful storm.

previously featured in the Bedtime Stories For The End Of The World podcast

 

Hagoshii

The Navajo people have a word for bringing a conversation to a close. Hagoshii. It was the women, the gatherers, who first made pots; mothers who believed they had already passed through three worlds, trusting the wet clay of this glittering one with their wet fingers, feeling the weight of something hollow and useful taking new form. I wish we had shared this word, wish that I hadn’t interpreted your silence, delays and polite replies as a vessel to drink from. I wish I had known you had buried me like a thirsty fragment, because I was still carrying you sacred as air and fire and light, making sculptures of what I thought we could be with my clumsy hands. I handle our last meeting like a fired relic, searching for symbols. I wish I had learnt the shape of acceptance, of what cannot change through time. Hagoshii. It is finished.

 

Olga is originally from Northern Ireland. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Dodging the Rain, Magma, Strix, Cordite Review, Under the Radar, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House and Paper Swans. She was the winner of the 2019 BBC Proms poetry competition, is a commissioned artist for Coventry City of Culture 2021 and last year was selected as one of the emerging poets for the podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World. She is an assistant headteacher in a secondary school and has two daughters. apple, fallen is her debut poetry pamphlet.

apple, fallen is available to purchase from the Against the Grain Poetry Press website.

You were to me – Olga Dermott-Bond

You were to me

…………………….a scientist, who when I was sick wrapped
……………………..me in an old cardigan and aspirin then
………………………took a swab of my throat, growing my
……………………..virus in a petri dish in the airing cupboard
………………………so I saw the reasons, like tiny jellyfish,
………………………behind my hot shivers. You were to me a
……………………..trapeze artist in sensible shoes who claimed
………………………to have no imagination, no interest in how
………………………ideas could swing glittering above my head
……………………..when I flew to catch them. You were to me
………………………a bible, a guilt-abacus, a great ball of string,
……………………..a suitcase, sinew, muscle, heart, lungs. You
………………………were to me a bone collector, your own child-
………………………hood rattling in jars in a stammering pantry,
………………………trying so hard to speak. You were to me
………………………sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper,
………………………all of yourself given away in hungry parts.
………………………You were to me a medicine of breadcrumbs
………………………saucepans rattling with heat of motherhood,
………………………oblivious to my 5, 6, 7 melting like snow
………………………from a ditch.

 

A former Warwick Poet Laureate, Olga’s work can be read in a range of publications including Rattle Magazine, Magma and Ink Sweat and Tears. This year she was one of the winners of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition.