You are very successful
but you have rocks in your chest,
wedged where your breasts should be.
Your stomach is a boulder.
To hold you up, your legs grow stony too.
You zip your jacket up
and nobody notices you are a mountain.
You buy coffee,
run board meetings where no-one says
you are dry rock
but above your head, their talk is weather,
your eyes collect new rain
and you know what you are because
like any hillside
you don’t sleep. Your feet could hold you here
forever but your sides
are crumbling, and when you speak
your words are rockfall, you’re
scared your heart is tumbling from your mouth.
When I make slow patterns
on a route called Namenlos
I’m writing to you –
and Stanage is a postcard to your loss,
stamped with a daytime moon.
The midges are small handwriting.
My friends stand still beneath the slab.
I write to you
because your imprint’s everywhere
across the landscape’s leaned-on page.
I write because I’ll never climb
as high as you, or hold my nerve,
because you might have laughed
to see my tight-knit fears,
because I understand the curve
of one low edge can be enough
to spend a lifetime on
and if you’d had a lifetime,
maybe you’d have turned
to face Apparent North,
its long, abandoned storyline,
and picked up where this life
Helen Mort lives in Sheffield. Her first collection ‘Division Street’ was published in 2013 and won the Fenton Aldeburgh prize. Her second collection is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus in 2016. Helen is the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow at The University of Leeds.