Deborah Harvey – three poems


‘I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free’
Attrib. Michelangelo

Sometimes I glimpse him in the marble
and in that instant he’s as real as human flesh.
I dream him nightly, long to see him
step from stone as if the lifting wind
might breathe him into flight.

I’ve chipped at this block so long, the mallet
jars my arms, my wrists begin to stiffen,
scapulae furling not like wings
but buckled, hunched beneath the weight
of fossil feathers, my own

limbs hardened, lost to grace
every sinew, bone transmuted into stone.


In a madness of flutes, butter stamps, locks,
narwhal tusks, bone-shakers, spinning wheels, clocks,
figures of laced leather and steel buttress the gloom

There’s something familiar about those masks,
their bellicose calm

Wheeling the pushchair back to the car
I notice my shadow, hunched, clinging
to my shoulder

‘Look over here,’ urges our daughter
pointing at thistles fleeced with seeds,
‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’

Snowshill Manor in the Cotswolds houses the extensive collections of Charles Paget Wade, which include 26 suits of Samurai armour.

The Strid

No one survives The Strid
but here she is, spat out on the bank
battered, lungs burning

The white noise of water was solace once
away from the racket of other lives,
just her, the trees and the ribboning brook
seemingly narrow enough to leap from one side

to the other
She wasn’t from these parts, didn’t know that
upstream the river was more than fifty feet wide,
had turned on its edge to slide through rock
hollowing back underneath it,
cutting a bottomless rift

She could read tea leaves, clouds, stars
but she couldn’t unravel these fast, implacable
currents of nothing

When she dabbled her toes they dragged her in
and what had been silence was fight to the death,
the struggling up to snag a breath
the sucking down

Even now on the brink she hears it call
waiting to haul her back into its
crocodilian dance

The above poems appear in Deborah Harvey’s forthcoming collection, Breadcrumbs (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2016).

Deborah’s writing is rooted in the landscape and folklore of her native West Country. Her previous two collections of poetry, Communion and Map Reading for Beginners, were published by Indigo Dreams in 2011 and 2014 respectively, with her historical novel, Dart, appearing under their Tamar Books imprint in 2013.

Deborah is a trustee of Poetry Can, the poetry development agency for the south-west of England. She enjoys hill-walking with her border collie, Ted.


2 thoughts on “Deborah Harvey – three poems

  1. Meg Cox March 31, 2016 / 7:21 am

    Beautiful, strong and vivid language, I liked all three very much. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Donna J Snyder January 8, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    Deborah Harvey’s poetry is as solid as good carpentry, yet somehow always sets me aflight.


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