Daisy Behagg: Footbridge Syndrome
The smell of ale will always be
Dad and Kevin, back from The Lamb
with mock-ceramic tankards of takeaway –
me, my sister and my brother
taking turns to reach up into the warm
hops-and-man smell, the rough
of their beards on our cheeks
as we kissed them goodnight.
I must’ve held it the entire
journey here. Now,
crossing the footbridge
its shape registers in my hand –
its small weight and smoothness;
the lurch of its importance.
I take the phone from my pocket
with an indrawn breath –
held – and throw, whole-bodied –
almost leap – watch breathlessly
its curved, perfect fall
as the scientist watches
an absolute truth being proven –
the screen lights up, its last word,
I imagine, Home
before it breaks the surface
of the canal – not landing
– rather beginning another,
slower fall through the dark.
Limestone has a longer memory
than brick. You can tell
where the ivy used to be
by the lines
down the house’s face,
the darker patches like scar tissue
where pulling it away
has just shown the damage done –
how deep it sent its roots, for how long.
I take the black marks on my sheet for shoe prints
until I see the pattern – tribal, dream-like –
and remember the new tattoo down his arm,
still inflamed that last night, the ink fresh in his skin,
pressed to the sheet by the weight of me
and the valium, that always made him sweat in his sleep.
The prints are faded, the curves of them overlapping
from his fretful movement through the night –
each one’s pattern flawing the other.
I leave the sheet on the bed, lie down with them.
The Hanging Gardens
It seems impossible:
a park in the middle of the air,
industrial sprawl below,
and you, suspended –
the last brilliant November sun
turned slow gold in the sky,
and on the faces of terraced houses
that curl in unexpected whorls
visible only from this height;
or that climb, parallel, up hills
so implausibly steep, it seems
at each apex
you’d step off into air.
They’ve stopped work
on the ivy-scarred terrace by my house –
the eaten-in shape of the vine
is pasted over.
Without its ghost-roots
the house looks strangely blind.
It faces me, like the year’s
lack of summer – a blank.
Daisy Behagg has previously had poems published in The Rialto, Poetry Wales, The North and Ambit, and has poems forthcoming in The Warwick Review and Poetry Salzburg Review. Last year one of Daisy’s poems was highly commended in the Bridport Prize judged by Gwyneth Lewis and another was runner up in the Edwin Morgan Prize judged by Don Paterson.