Wendy Pratt – three poems

Escherichia coli
After W.H. Auden

“Always trust a microbiologist because they have the best chance of predicting when the world will end.” Teddie O. Rahube (Microbiologist)

My darlings, I have kept you warm
for one day and one whole night.
I’ve kept you dark, and seen you’re safe,
and now I take your plastic
universe, the cosmic sheen
of condensation falling
from the lid, and raise up the roof
of your world so I may see.

You have been spoilt. You have dined out
on sheep-blood and soy digest;
lived your lives in all-inclusive
exclusivity. Your sun
has been the dome of a heat lamp,
your beaches salted with eight
percent sodium chloride, you
have had a good long summer.

Grow, my little ones, grow out
across the red sheen, expand
your single cells into the bright
wheels of yellow colonies,
pit the plate in your rush and run
the great race to the edge
of your world. And find that there is
nothing more. I will provide more.

Tomorrow I’ll lift a select
few from your earth. It will be
your Rapture. You will ascend
and be baptised in sterile
H2O. A bijou bottle
will be an ocean of tears
for you. Hold on, you are going
to a better place. Hold hands,

entwine flagella. You must face
apocalypse. You can not
know who will survive, who will die,
how the antibiotic
discs will decimate your numbers;
will dissolve through the agar
that you’re living on, will force
upon you infertility,

a weak cell wall, metabolic
death. I would like to think your lives
were not unbearable. You
have come from very distant lands,
explorers from the bland bowels
of some old lady, of some small
and helpless child. I needed

the knowledge of your deaths to send
back to your homeland. I am
a cruel deity. I have played
your hand for you, have ordered
every second of your free will.
Forgive me. When I am gone,
I will bequeath myself to you,
and your faith will be renewed.

Macey Draws

She uses stencils to draw rounds,
tucks sounds into these pictures,
lays pencil borders round and about.

In her world fire is flat, a roundabout;
a circle with a centre. Flowers turn in rounds
over and over, the same design. Her pictures

are bird seed on her path. Those pictures;
one day I’ll try and show her what it is about,
how fire takes hold in the soul and does the rounds,

half burns you away, curling the edges of your pictures.

Gifts the Mole Gave Me

My own face staring down,
the arc of a horizon
framing my head
like a portrait. The world
staggering backward behind me,
the dog curved to a streak
on the convex  mole-eye.

The memory of sleep,
the plush of a velvet heart,
the scraping away, day
after day, enough soil
to glob a mouth shut,
shut a world in,
pick treasures out.

The title poem of Wendy’s latest collection, available from Valley Press.

Wendy Pratt was born in Scarborough, 1978, and still lives there today. She is a fully-qualified microbiologist, but also has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Creative Writing, and is working towards a PhD in poetry. She is the author of Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare (Prolebooks, 2011), Museum Pieces (Prolebooks, 2014) and Lapstrake (Flarestack, 2015). Her latest full collection, Gifts the Mole Gave Me, is published by Valley Press.

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