When there is a flood
the things that stick with me are the images
of elderly ladies in dinghies
being pulled to safety by volunteers
up to their knees. The man who goes back
for his neighbours’ dog because he was there
when they brought her home as a puppy
and can’t bear the thought of leaving her
swimming until her legs give way.
Like the time you turned up one night
just to make me smile. Even though
you’d had to walk in the rain and you
could have stayed in and kept dry.
You said it was nothing, that we are all
just keeping our heads above water.
(Previously published in Snakeskin)
It was as though babies melted
from the basket of my mother’s womb;
as if water steamed in her stomach,
scalded life from existence.
She caught many times – and easily,
each week held tight as odds ebbed
until the shipwreck end.
She did not give in to the waves.
Then, one soft March, I swam
against history, made the coast.
I learned to breathe out of water
and, holding me, so did my mother.
(Previously published in The Chronicles of Eve anthology (Paper Swans Press))
Claire Walker‘s poetry has been published widely in magazines, anthologies and webzines. She is a Reader for Three Drops Press, and Co-Editor of Atrium poetry webzine. She has two pamphlets published by V. Press – The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile (2015), and Somewhere Between Rose and Black (2017).
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