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
incompatibility,
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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Wendy Pratt – three poems

Now the Wolf is in the Cul-de-sac

it’s come down with the dusk, left
a vast geometry of pines, thin lines
of Christmas trees, sheep hemmed
into the grey-black fields. It’s worked
its way along the red brick walls,
PVC doors, nudged wind chimes
with its nose, paced the patios
and blanched itself to white in each
security light. You watch it coming,
hands, like X-rays on the glass,
your face as undone
as an etch-a-sketch, and all
that keeps the wolf away is light.

So each house lights its windows;
kitchens bitten into squares,
bathrooms petalled-finger-prints
of oblique head shots over sinks.
The wolf leans up against
your letter box and presses
forward with the wind and while
the dog whines from the sofa,
wolf knows neither sit nor stay.


The Art of Breaking Glass

There is an art to breaking glass,
a skill in all the panes I’ve smashed.

There is a skill to snapping stems,
an art to chipping off the ends

of ornaments; Murano fish
a skill within the crackled dish.

There’s skill in scattering the bits
a thrill in V shaped, finger nicks.

And every time I fall through one
I can’t resist the siren’s song.

I’ve fallen straight through full sized doors
I’ve stamped my feet on thick glass floors

I’ve ground my heal on sea glass pieces
picked from crevices on beaches,

picked up broken bottle necks
and pressed them up against flesh.

I even have a box at home
containing fibreglass, like foam.

I fell through my first pane in a faint,
head bowed divinely, like a saint,

I never felt the slightest pain,
so I performed the act again

and I’ve been falling ever since
to somehow prove that I exist.


Two Week Wait

Love turned the dial up
and watched us burn in its gas
light. Love caught us like frogspawn
and cupped us in the light of a duck
egg blue day. Love breathed and whistled
and lifted our faces and touched
us gently as truth must do, and ran us
through like soap suds on washing day.
Like clean sheets on the line we were lifted,
the breeze let us breathe. Love was needles
and charts and scans, love was clinic visits
and operations, love riddled us with drugs,
love shook us with hope, love gave us you,
love lost us both, love lost us all.


Wendy Pratt lives and works in North Yorkshire. Her first pamphlet and her first full sized collection were published by Prolebooks, her latest pamphlet, Lapstrake, is published by Flarestack Poets. She is currently undertaking an MA with Manchester MMU and a PhD with Hull. Her work has been published in many magazines, journals and anthologies. She won both the Prole Laureate and the York mix competition in 2015 and her poem Amazing Grace was highly commended and appeared in the Forward Anthology in 2015.
Blog: wendyprattpoetry