Jacqueline Gabbitas’ short poetry collections are Mid Lands (Hearing Eye), Earthworks and Small Grass (Stonewood Press) and her work has been published in magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review and The Forward Book of Poetry (Faber). She has read at The Times Oxford Literary Festival, The Poetry Library and for BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. She is co-editor of Brittle Star magazine and a Hawthornden Fellow. She works for Writing East Midlands. www.jacquelinegabbitas.net
‘You’re late.’ ‘I’m sorry, I overlaid.’
‘You overslept?’ I overlaid.
I covered myself in sleep:
I lived in the ground not calling it dirt,
I burrowed: the seatearth known as fireclay.
There were bones, cast off shells,
and nothing familiar
until beetles – chitin sticking in my teeth,
shellac, shellac too. And ash
– ash sustained me –
and the damp from ancient mires.
My eyes crusted with salt,
and I welcomed the stinging.
When the heat was too much
I took flint to my hair,
breathed through the gaps in my teeth,