top of page

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.



the barque to bear you

boards carved

where the green-crowned king bowed low;

offered himself,

a vaulted ark, big-hearted.


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.


as your glorious hour receded,

burn again in frankincense

harvested from your red-bone desert



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


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


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page