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Two Poems by Helen T. Curtis

Updated: May 1, 2019

Helen T. Curtis is a poet now living on the borders of Derbyshire and North Staffordshire where she roams outside as much as possible with camera and notepad - and frequent café stops for jottings. As well as the countryside, she enjoys and finds inspiration in, art and folk music as well as in visits to the coasts of Wales and Scotland. Her work has been published in Artemis, Dawntreader, Canon’s Mouth and in Mother’s Milk and Hysteria anthologies. In 2013, her poem Owen was put forward for the Forward Prize. She has also been placed in competitions run by Wild Words and Fosseway Poets. Curtis is a member of Second Light women’s poetry network and is currently enjoying exciting new work with Oxford School of Poetry with the intention of working towards a first pamphlet.



Crucible


Oak-framed

the barque to bear you

boards carved

where the green-crowned king bowed low;

offered himself,

a vaulted ark, big-hearted.


Within,

limbs of willow cradle your bones

sister-fingers braid a creche for you;

with memory of water, peel and shed

the unsuitable suit;

lie in lattice-weave, bassinet

rocking, lapping, weeping.


Extinguished

as your glorious hour receded,

burn again in frankincense

harvested from your red-bone desert

Boswellia

Salalah

the trees’ dripped tears

coil smoke around you, tendrils

soothe, soothe - balm for your flayed skin

almond flowers for your lips

blue hibiscus for your eyes

so your children will know you.


Your essence rises, rich and fragrant;

oud of agarwood - born of corruption

Aquillaria

precious resin from black infection

in the heart-wood

now transmuted.

Breathe now, rare brother

the air in here is sweet.


Rest now, oak bears all

blood, bone, breath and grace.


Through the Woods

Blood in January, the hunter vanished

spoor dropped here, and here, in bare white wood


and hemming the edges of city spoil

sweet, dark wine for women of the road


restless light teases the keeper of the keys

rusting bunches hang, heavy on winter bough


thicket dark and deep, bow-bending

conceals and guards the secret cleft


spindle, elder, ash and yew.


yellow-gold of Celtic coast 

gutters and sparks a crackling blaze, flame of furze


railways embroidered purple-stitching

never say die – never say die – never say die


Strong arms raise up his broad, green crown

all hail staunch king, big-bellied host


on little floats and barks of silver grey

usher the weepers – sweep them downriver


gorse, buddleia oak and willow


Lemon lambs’ tails, bright on blue

wand-waving, dip divine for water


from the mountain, mantle of berry

feast for hungry flocks, journeying


virgin promise, demurely petalled

blushes moist and pink in modest leaf


ladies grey in full-frilled skirt 

rustle their young uphill in husky shade


hazel, rowan, apple and beech


Too-sweetness of brief life, a swoon

flute of Pan, brown-sickening


gossip with the water, little games 

of cones and twigs-in-ripple


thicket of thorn, catch the felon

keep him there, make him swear


night-shining, gateway to winter

white bark peels, shivers, platinum


lilac, alder, prickle-eye bush, silver birch





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