The smell of ice in the pines. Cold and green,
like lungfuls of mint. Your shoulderblades like angelwings
cleaving the grass. Moses did that, once, to water. Parted it.
It wasn’t as miraculous as this. Us. Your skin, the white of it shining
through thin cotton. You make a circle of thumb and finger,
a telescopic lens. You say, Let’s try and count the stars, and I watch
as you sift the universe through to me, all that old assorted light
numbered, defined, let fall through the bone ring like so much salt. I know it now.
How galaxies collapse. How whole worlds can be born in a throat.
The day we saw a rabbit, dead in the canal
We thought it was a bag, at first. A square
of fur, lazily turning in the slow water. Half-sunk,
the heft of it pulling it under. Then it turned towards us,
and we saw its eyes – blind, milky, rolled back to the whites,
as though, like a yogi, it had turned from the world
to navigate the lights of its own mind. Oblivious now
to the streak of green canal, the yellow
blaze of October leaves. The one knot
of our cold hands, and the human smell of us,
from which, before, it would have bucked and leapt.
Then the water shifted its head’s wedge,
and the shock of its jaw shone out like the moon.
The jolt of that sight, the secrets under skin –
the bold alliance of air and skull, the dereliction
of the thing, in whose wrecked face we couldn’t help but see
the evidence of our own eventual dismantling.
Cheryl Pearson lives and writes in the suburbs of Manchester in the North West of England. Her poems have appeared in publications including 14 Magazine, The Journal, and all three Best of Manchester Poets anthologies (Puppywolf Press). She has had a poem appear in The Guardian’s ‘Poetry Workshop’ feature, and has work in the upcoming issues of Form Quarterly Magazine and Skylark (Little Lantern Press). She is currently working simultaneously on a novel, and her first full-length poetry collection.