These three poems by Laura Wildgoose are heavily influenced by the coastal turbulence of England’s Lake District. In them, she presents an intensely personal series of elegies detailing her life there, focusing on images of loss, the sea, the Cumbrian fells, and isolation…
by: Laura Wildgoose
The high wind,
the nests of seagulls perched in chimney stacks,
and the smell of salt.
The bracken was burnt
every other summer –
and the sheep were herded to safety
in the heat.
The higher you climbed,
the more unbearable
the wind became.
On the fells you can’t hear for it.
I was once lost in the rain
I went around in circles until I was found.
Soaked to the skin in the winter,
there are wolves no longer but
still I felt the distress
of a lamb without its mother.
And that very year,
when spring turned into summer,
my mother’s friend had a lamb
that got caught
around the throat
by some string on the fence,
and slowly hung itself.
That summer I began to grow from a cutting
mint in a ceramic pot that was given to me
three years ago
by a boy
who was in his first throes of love.
But still, every night,
the wind roars through
the blocked-up fireplace in my room.
The nausea of the dawn breaking
like a wave working to pull you
under and back to bed.
You are like a horse of the sea in a storm –
moon-breaker and tearer of paper
full of the terror
of the texture of bracken at night
on the high hill
on the backs of your knees
like the noses of goats eagerly pressed into empty hands.
While you dream away this temporary sickness
rain obscures the morning light –
it collects into the vats, as it always does,
and is poured away before you wake.
There is a vacuum in this cup of milk
it runs out the wrong way.
He didn’t understand –
and in those days he didn’t –
Like a babe who couldn’t quite
he floundered as my father gave him the bottle.
and my mother
His frail hands were a mockery
of his craftsman’s hands.
and the weapon-maker –
products of industry
and class –
but in that moment,
my father and my grandfather
seemed to be mimicking the Madonna and child.
Laura Wildgoose is an English poet based in the Lake District and Durham, where she is currently completing a degree in English Literature. Her work is heavily influenced by the lakes and coastline she grew with, as well as her passion for art and painting. She has been published in the Palatinate newspaper and frequently performs at Durham-based open mic nights.