The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her Last Berth to be broken up, 1838
I folded myself into the cool side of the duvet;
you tugged it under your legs. Teach me
about art, I said. In that September heat,
my voice’s waterfall tumbled and broke.
It struck me then how your skin
was tinged with sickness, how your hair
hung lank, a wind-dropped sail, and your eyes
looked slightly left of my face. You said: Turner
maybe used too much yellow, and nobody knows
if he was radical in his approach to colour
or partially blind – his vision stained
to antique maps, until everything looked
like a work of art. Which brings this to what
you taught me: how to fall apart.
Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway
So slight it could almost be an accident
in the turmoil of colour and oil, racing
across the wingspan of the bridge
into the present – a flick of a hare
boxing the future, jacking its sharp angles
over dabbled green, its ears slipstreamed
to the focal point, and back legs springing
like a voice reaching the end of a question.
It runs to show man the limits of his progress.
It runs in terror of the industrial age.
It runs as a symbol of the engine’s speed.
It runs because it is a hare and hares run.
Reading the Signs
That was the summer we blatted the ants
with bits of kitchen roll, smudging
their miniature bodies between the countertop
and our thumbs. It didn’t rain for six long weeks
and in the spare room, a business of flies
crawled into the gaps around the windows
to feast on the wood’s protective coat.
A sparrow flung itself into the glass
of the front door. It lay broken on the step,
its wings and feet at wrong angles, till I shovelled it
into a polythene bag – though the grease spot
stayed on the window for weeks.
We slept in different rooms, agreed
that all these things, these signs, were unconnected.
Born in Cumbria, Katie Hale has been published in Poetry Review, The Frogmore Papers, Interpreter’s House and Cadaverine, among others. She has been a Barbican Young Poet, and Young Poet in Residence at Theatre by the Lake, and curated contemporary poetry installation Beneath The Boughs at Lowther Castle. She completed her MLitt in Creative Writing (Poetry) at St Andrews in 2013, and now runs New Writing Cumbria. She is currently working on a pamphlet.