She was standing on the roof of the old mill building.
Two storeys above us, she was a spectre, her feathers
luminous in the dark. A moon-shadow,
thoroughly confused by her urban landing.
We paused on the pavement below, both blinking
to see if she would disappear, only a shared vision.
Yet she remained, strange shade, exquisite gargoyle.
The street’s silence was stirred by the taxi, humming
on the curb. Driving away, we watched through
the rear window, hoping to see wings unfurl.
At the restaurant, we spoke with others in hushed voices
about friends in Italy, hand soap, and closures.
Eyes flitting, our thoughts prickled with uncertainty.
Later, dropped on the same corner, we walked past
another apparition: a van, large and pale, doors thrown open.
And inside, our swan, curled up in its depths like a pearl.
The RSPCA officer told us he was heading north,
to Nottingham, for a release by the river.
Twelve days later, we went into lockdown.
I thought of the swan: roof-ghost, phantom, harbinger.
I stand inside
a wreath of trees.
The hills, cave-coloured,
blue with rain, seem
to sway like kelp.
in the deep
comes the taste
of saltwater, a sharpness
like needles at my feet.
I dream myself back
into sunny colours.
The red cliffs of Mornington,
as warm as one minute
into death. A brick split
open, the blade of time
slipped from throat to tail.
The sky peers down
and sees itself, complicit.
Its soul, black,
stays away from the shallows.
of reflected cloud
at the heart of it all
retracts like an anemone
as the shadow passes over.
I see these colours
bleeding into each other
as the sun clots on
the blue horizon
of hills and trees.
The cliffs decay
into a kelpish mist.
There is no
escaping the cold.
Bex Hainsworth (she/her) is a bisexual poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words and her work has appeared in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Acropolis Journal, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.