Alice Willington: Bridesmaid
The roses sleep in the study, in their bed
of bucket and water. Their scent is a guard,
a heaviness of rain which greets my whisper.
My nightdress is sewn like leather and silk.
The horse’s flank is warm and rough, woven
from tapestry and the keys of the flute,
whose notes are the owl-cry and guile
of my black witch. She glides among the pines
behind the forest of oak, hides under the stones
of the shivering burn, waits on the satin ice
folded like a veil on the loch. On the frost
of her voice she holds out the stems.
I prick my finger, and blood opens like a bulb.
Shoots of small hunger, unlatched like a metal chest,
stretch like the green dress of an aurum lily.
She eats the bitterness like honey. She drinks
the sap like wine. She holds out her cup
until I am dry and the moon is gone.
The pearls of my gown are rich in the sun.
The child holds the strings,
long lickedysplit lines that jerk
and loosen as he turns his wrists.
The wind is made from resin and horsehair,
the buffet of canvas swoops and soars
in the quiver of catgut.
The music falls and his arms go up,
he goes down the hill and over the barlines,
up into cadenza to tumble down.
jewels of grass
in corsets of spikes,
above taffeta leaves,
the glow of petals
close as skin,
skin lets us in
gentle as water,
on night skin.
Alice Willington was born in Scotland and now lives in Oxford. She completed the MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford in September 2009. Her first publication was her poem Cartography, which was published in the November 2006 edition of Avocado Magazine. She was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2008 and was awarded second prize in the 2009 Ledbury Poetry Competition. Three poems were published in the fourth and current issue of the literary journal Horizon Review. She currently works for the University of Oxford Development Office.