Susan Wicks photoSusan Wicks has published six collections of poetry, three novels, a book of short stories and a short experimental memoir, Driving My Father (Faber, 1995). Her first collection of poems, Singing Underwater (Faber, 1992) won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize. Her third, The Clever Daughter, was a PBS Choice and shortlisted for both Forward and TS Eliot Prizes. Five of her books have received awards from the Poetry Book Society. She is also a multiple-award-winning translator of the French poet, Valérie Rouzeau. A new full collection of her own, The Months, is due from Bloodaxe in 2016.


She escapes it in her dreams
to a teeming forest where the leaves
leap upwards like green flames
from a heap of – what? Can they be seeds
or the shells of clambering turtles, human teeth
clacking a dialogue that’s long-forgotten?

Charcoal butterflies
open their jewelled wings. If she can just stay asleep
she’ll see a whole forest burn,
cool herself at its embers,
press her throbbing head against green.

Is there something here
that never could escape? Each tiny knot
is neat as a Girl Guide’s lanyard.
When she was twelve
she’d squeeze her eyes tight shut
and tie them in her sleep
behind her back
as if with a blindfold, time
and time again
till she was good enough.

Yet now beyond the net
the reefs and grannies blur
to a smudge of charcoal,
slide like antique silk
and disappear – outside
there’s only air
and she is breathing it.

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