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Poetry: "Leaving the Ground Feather Untouched"

Leaving the Grounded Feather Untouched

The birds are yet to wake when I collect my tools:

kitchen scissors, nail clippers,

secateurs, garden shears,

an axe.

Before I open the door,

I gently snip a single popcorn

with the tip of the shears

for a puff of sweetness.

In the garden, I secateur a finger

of the hedgerow

to release the scent of sap.

I shear the morning air

to breathe the bleached newness.

Then to the sea.

On the shoreline I scissor a wave for salt

swing my axe to halve the smoothest pebble

sniff for sulphur and enclosed time.

Before I head home,

I clip the nails of an urban fox

to smell burnt miles and hunger.

I am done.

But on the pavement

there’s a herring gull feather

and before I know it I have picked it up

exposed the quill

and I am staring down the hollow tube

that has gifted flight.

I head home,

faint fish on my fingertips,

knowing I will try again tomorrow

and the next day

until I can leave the grounded feather untouched.

What do Elephants Dream of?

She wakes to find herself

already thinking again.

Today of rectangular bacon crisps.

It occurs to her they are the size

of old-fashioned cinema tickets.

She imagines using one for entry

to a film, a bus, a zoo.

She can feel the oiled crumbs sticking to

the pads of her thumb and index finger

thinks of licking them clean;

the colour and the corn gone,

that stubbornness of smell.

Last time she ate those crisps

she had red wine and thoughts of sex.

But she did not wonder what elephants dream of.

Not like now

when she asks herself if their legs twitch

when they dream they are running.

Whether they miss the dead so much they

wake saddened when they are not there again and again.

Do they picture the body?

The one they have returned to

to trunk the bones,

smell the cavity.

Sue Finch lives with her wife in North Wales. She tweets at @soopoftheday. Her debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, was published in October 2020 with Black Eyes Publishing UK.

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