Black human eyes, wet and rocking
in their nests of dry grass.
The white moon is not a symbol,
the moon is a coin they pass around
and around. So, their blue tongues and hands
grow tired of making to her their signs,
they recline into the earth, who spits them up again
The blood is a red bead
where the tip is snapped and sucked,
where I creep and eat, eat the wet eyes
in the grass,
who follow me without mouths.
How very unlike those precise thorns,
The ear says to the mouth,
the mouth listens to the ear:
better that no one will know you,
no one knows you even now.
Look at the enormous stone slabs like carefully risen chests,
and at the stone stairs like slit snakes,
at the high stone passages, obelisks, daises
made of moonlight, where no one has ever existed,
though sometimes there goes beggared Thought
with a voice like delicate pages turning.
Too late you see how the lake becomes a silver mirror
and so do the trees, the flints, the darkness,
and the sneaking threads of secret streams.
What use to say of this thick-cut coldness
I love you, this coldness who crushes
my hot ingot heart like a nut.
I don’t live on love,
I live on the shadows of enormous slabs,
black eyes and bloody grass,
grass that strokes such a rabbit,
strokes it like a copper toy, and says
if only you tried hard enough to stop this rabbiting.
And then, over it all,
came the white owl, Silent Death.
Cat Woodward’s first collection Sphinx was published by Salo Press in 2017, her second Blood. Flower. Joy! was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press in 2019. In 2018 she won the Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Experiment. Cat’s current poetry project is a mytho-history of the city of Norwich. She studied for her PhD at The University of East Anglia, and she teaches creative writing.