This poem is taken from Stand 235, 20(3) September - December 2022.

Holly Bars Two Poems
Grandma’s Fingers

grow death, blackening from the tip down, as if they were staves of a necromancer. They were once in the garden, planting daffodil bulbs, pruning hydrangea, pressing runner beans into the earth and sowing wildflowers. Now they are still as winter’s frost, no longer harvesting brassicas or taming dawn’s shooting pink. Just black, unable to uproot dandelions and willowherb from concrete cracks. The shadow is growing like sweet peas climbing staffs these fingers once staked, devilled ivy, consuming brick and dust and home. I wonder if the valley is in her bones, whether death is a seedling germinating from the inside out. But the way it preys is like a cormorant, watching a gardener from a tree. Death is a rot, worming her fingers. I dare not touch them.

Geographic Tongue

My tongue is relandscaping, marking out regions that aren’t meant to exist. That’s why they call it geographic, after place; world; creation. Poor alien. It hurts, belonging to this tongue, on this planet, where there’s so much wrong that I’m allergic to living. And my antibodies, they’re making me an anti-body, trying so hard to keep us surviving that they’re killing us, slowly, cauterising taste buds to migrate quicker. But oh, my darling ravagers, my mothers and fathers, I never could let go of pain.
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