Catherine Ayres – four poems


I understand why you left; not because
of moorland behind your eyes, snow packed high
as walls against a track, broken places,
pine stretching through fire into the sky. No,
you left because I tilted maps, slanted
fields until they yearned for sun, every
tree at twilight the remains of a dance
in dust. Forgive this ache for the unloved.
I know you need an altar, hilltops lithe
with light, your shadow’s spire across the fell.
I fray these edges gold, torment your heart
with fragile sacraments. My love, walk on.
You worship blink of distance against stone;
I kneel at puddles’ shrines. We pray alone.

Woman at dusk

The day slips its skin.
A line of beech waits for the moon.
Birds are mousey in the hedge –
a small one aches across the sun.
The sky is a chrysalis,
then a molten line like the lip of the sea,
then too much fire to be sad.
The woman steps inside.
From her kitchen window, stars.


If I could take back the first time you touched me.

Light swells my spine,
the horizon aches.

Up here, only land and sky.

I have come to birth our ghosts on this fell.

A grouse chuckles in the gentle-bleak.
The curlew sings her madness to the stars.


Yes, I am lost.
But on the lawn
by the circle of cars
a slant of dusk
finds the tree.
I watch it flare.
Sometimes there is
just enough light.

Catherine Ayres works as a teacher in Northumberland. In 2015, she came 3rd in the Hippocrates Prize and in 2016 she won the Elbow Room Prize. Her debut collection, Amazon, is published by Indigo Dreams.

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