Lust is a Graceful Stream

Many of us may find ourselves with extra time on our hands during these strange lock down times. Reading a book, or perhaps getting into short stories, can be a good and comforting, and satisfyingly consuming way to pass time. Reflecting on this, I thought I would offer up something different. I have decided to share previously unpublished poetry

from my undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a Poetry Series. Each day will feature a different poem with a brief background on its creation.

First up is Lust is a Graceful Stream. Written in my third year of my BA in English at Exeter as part of my poetry portfolio.

Lust is a Graceful Stream

I went there as a child. My aunt threw breadcrumbs at the ducks, I ran at them

brandishing an invisible bow and arrow. We unfolded the picnic cloth beneath the ash

tree; laid out the cucumber sandwiches, the lemonade and homemade shortbread. The

shortbread was made specifically for me. My aunt never touched them. “I never was

one for sweet things,” she’d say between sips of lemonade. “Your mother though, she

stuffed her pockets with caramels and popsicles. You’d never have thought it, skinny

as she was. All that dancing must’ve burnt the sugar off…” Auntie bit the corner of

her sandwich. She always went quiet at this point. Chewing through the memories of

letters greased by thumbprints, the whispers of escapes from minted breaths, the run

down the hill, the giggles by the stream. Her blush in the closed heat, her lips like a

strawberry in his mouth, already drawing back into herself. She still goes to the river;

lays the picnic cloth for two; brings out shortbread which shrivels in the sun. As if she

was afraid it would be sweeter than that memory. Her left hand, unadorned but for the

fine wrinkles and thick veins, licks the sunlight of the dead end stream. The stream,

eyewitness to sparks of lust born under an ash tree, shinnies away with its adder’s

back, silver and foiled.

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