sarahdoyle.co.uk

SARAH DOYLE, POET

Below is a small selection of my poetry, which I hope visitors to this site will enjoy. All poems are © Sarah Doyle.

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“They are also portrayed [in art] on, or by, bridges, so explicit did the imaginative link seem [to Victorians] between the ‘fallen’ woman and her possible literal ‘fall’ thereafter as she jumps into the water to commit suicide.”

– ‘The Fallen Woman’ exhibition notes, Foundling Museum 2016

Flounder

Barely a shock to the cocky mud-larks raking

the river-shore for spoils. Here is a ha’penny,

here a brooch, a snapped stem of gentleman’s

pipe, carved bone clagged with clay, but still

worth the pocketing. The Thames is a pickler,

preserving the city’s detritus in its own juices,

a broth of the unwanted. And here she is, fish

out of water flopped on the fore-shore, silver

skinned and belly up, a twist of saturated skirts

making a mermaid’s tail. Hardly Ophelia, no

weedy bouquets clasped in her un-ringed left

hand, the luxury of grand gestures beyond her

grasp. A proscenium sweep of bridge keeps

her obscenity from offending a god who’d

never heard of her. There is no baptism found

in these waters. No forgiveness gleaned in the

soupy tide. Only limbs, limp; the dampness

of new death: and the river’s uncleansed bride.

Published in “The Fenland Reed”, issue 3, Autumn 2016

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On Openness

Don’t open it, he said – it’s just for show.

The lid stays closed, a novelty-type gift.

So many things mankind need never know,

apparently. I’m not allowed to lift

the lid. Stays closed, a novelty-type gift?

A pointless wedding present – what’s the use?

Apparently I’m not allowed to lift

or shake the box – its contents might come loose.

A pointless wedding present – what’s the use?

A nervous wreck, I was; afraid to touch

or shake the box. Its contents might come loose

there in my hands. Temptation is too much.

A nervous wreck? I was afraid to touch

the blasted thing. I held it at arm’s length,

there in my hands. Temptation is too much!

I swear, I fought the urge with all my strength.

The blasted thing! I held it at arm’s length.

It bothered me – each night, I’d hardly sleep.

I swear, I fought the urge with all my strength,

and what harm would it do? One tiny peep.

It bothered me each night. I’d hardly sleep;

I had to scratch that itch. Who’d ever guess,

and what harm would it do, one tiny peep?

If push should come to shove, I’d just confess.

I had to scratch that itch. Who’d ever guess

my fingers trembled, fiddling with those locks?

If push should come to shove, I’d just confess,

I told myself – it’s just a poxy box.

My fingers trembled, fiddling with those locks.

As Zeus’s words came back, I eased the lid.

I told myself it’s just a poxy box –

who’d ever hear what I, Pandora, did?

As Zeus’s words came back, I eased the lid.

Don’t open it, he said – it’s just for show.

Who’d ever hear what I, Pandora, did?

So many things mankind need never know.

Commended, Winchester Poetry Prize, 2016

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The Sweeper’s Tale

It settles in miniscule drifts, colourful

as fairy-wings, and twice as fragile.

Sometimes, the wind takes it, peppering

pavements with specks of blue, pink, silver.

Horseshoe…

Skittering across church-steps, treading

a lucky path. Fortune. Favour. Tiny

paper facsimiles of their iron counterparts,

a U-shape made to hold promises.

Bell…

Music peals, vibrating a soundscape,

ripples of celebration spreading

irresistibly outwards. Rise, descent,

rise, descent. A ring for a ring.

Loveheart…

Two curves, rounding, combining,

coming to the same point: a single

meeting place in the soul’s geometry.

Hearts given and held and cherished.

Bow…

Loose ends reach to fold back on each other,

as knots are tied in never-ending loops.

Ornament and substance. Fibre enfolds

fibre in a lifetime’s embrace.

Horseshoe, bell, loveheart, bow…

I sweep the confetti that settles, like snow.

Published in Petals in the Pan anthology, Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2015

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Comet

Supercharged snowball.

Pale brushstroke on dark canvas,

white tail trail-blazing.

Fissure in the sky’s fabric.

Anticipated. Fleeting.

Published in Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System, PS Publishing, 2014

All poems © Sarah Doyle