Rose Cook – three poems

Watching them dive

The first thing that attracts me is the glide.
A company of gannets, each the shape of Concorde,
white and wide, riding the wind’s waves
to pass one another in the air,
give an aerobatic show of tilted wing tip,
such speed to gather to wing lock, power dive
a plunging of gannets.

Then the terns come, sea swallows,
a cotillion of tumbling snowflakes
at play with the southerly wind.
The sea is rough and cold, but full of fish.
They bundle, flock, dive with quick jabs,
call to each other, sharp music,
light as glass.

At dusk, a cormorant flies home,
black, heavy outline against dark sea.

Paper Round

Ted Hughes had a paper round
and so did I, in the Calder valley,
toiling through winter mornings,
so dark it felt like night, with an awkward bag
heavy on my shoulder, stuffed with papers
and their acrid newsprint smell.

I’d get up at six, before anyone else,
I still like that, the house to myself.
The empty streets felt surreal, lit and shadowed.
I met foxes, moved between worlds,
lost a sense of myself as girl, became stronger,
bolder, lone adventurer, unobserved.

Each house offered difference: a gateway
or steps, a door with a letter box, a landing
or hatch. Occasionally a dog barked.
I knew each one – how often to fold,
how hard to push. A daily odyssey,
two miles or more, with one simple goal,
to deliver them all, get home for breakfast,
then walk to school.

A Whale in my Window

She swam by my window,
imagine that,
a whale so close.

That was when a humpback
came to the bay on my birthday
and to eat the shoals of silver
that swirled and flew the wintry sea.

When you speed up the song
of a humpback whale,
it sounds like birdsong.

Rose Cook lives in Totnes. She co-founded the popular local poetry and performance forum One Night Stanza, as well as poetry performance group Dangerous Cardigans.

She is one of Apples & Snakes‘ poets and has performed at many venues from the Soho Theatre in London to the Blue Walnut in Torquay.

Her latest book, Hearth, is published by Cultured Llama.

Rose Cook – four poems

Woman and Alsatian
from a photograph by Keith Arnatt

She seems just about to move
having agreed,
one hand comforts the dog,
buried into the fur behind his ears,
but he doesn’t like my camera.

I saw them from across the street
and followed, attracted by
the slick pvc of her coat,
which gave her a beatnik look,
though practical too, I can see that.

Her dog lollops on oversized feet.
He will grow quickly,
they already work as a team.
What’s his name?
I position them by a blank wall.

Look at me. They are both unsure.
She wonders why I am interested in her –
ordinary, out for a walk, hair a mess.
She half smiles, tense. His name is Timber.
The dog barks.


The man on the train is on his phone,
telling someone that he needs help.
And I thought of you.

He has found a crow with a broken wing,
he knows how to bandage it,
but needs someone to hold the bird.

The person on the phone isn’t keen.
I can come down to you with the bird
in a box. I don’t mind the rain.

He says he bought mealy worms
to feed the bird.
He waits.

I think of the injured crow.
It sits quietly in his kitchen,
scratches at its box.


During and after my mother’s death
I left plenty of space for grieving
or so I thought.
It seems to need so much
perhaps, after all, I will need a new life.
All this brokenness and sitting still.

The cherry has been pink since December.
It blooms from dry branches,
never lets go.


We finish our drinks and leave the café.
A company of pigeon bustle on the wall.

You make a sudden sideways grab
with your magician’s hands,
hold one, soft-grey, cradled.

We peer at its bead eyes, quick face.
You raise the bird, release it.

Rose Cook was born in Halifax and lives in Devon; she’s well known in the South West as a poet and performer. Rose has read in venues such as the Soho Theatre in London, Dartington’s Ways With Words Literature Festival and the Bristol Poetry Festival. Most recently, she appeared at a Forked event held at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth.

Her last book, Notes From a Bright Fieldwas published by Cultured Llama in 2013. Previous poetry books are Everyday Festival published by HappenStance Press (2009) and Taking Flight published by Oversteps Books (2009).

Rose’s blog can be found at