Thursday 29 October 2020

Yvonne Battle-Felton, "Remembered"

Yvonne Battle-Felton, author of Remembered, is an American writer living in the UK. Her writing has been published in literary journals and anthologies. Remembered was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019) and shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize (2020). She was commended for children’s writing in the Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize (2017) and has three titles in Penguin Random House’s Ladybird Tales of Superheroes and three in the forthcoming Ladybird Tales of Crowns and Thrones. Yvonne has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and is Lecturer in Creative Writing and Creative Industries at Sheffield Hallam University.

Yvonne writes because she loves endings, secrets, and stories. She writes for children and adults, creates literary events, moms, and plans (in her spare time) to take over the world one story at a time. 

Yvonne's website is here.

About Remembered

It’s 1910 and Philadelphia is burning. The Union is threatening to strike. The Company is threatening. Tensions have boiled over and flow through the street like blood, shattering communities like glass. 

In the middle of this glass lies Edward. He was in the streetcar that barrelled down a lane into a shop window of a segregated store. Was. Pulled out of the wreckage by an angry mob, Edward is beaten by them and the police for a crime he may or may not have committed.

Set in 1910 Philadelphia and 1840-1864 Maryland, Remembered is a historical fiction, framed narrative that follows Spring and her sister before they were born, through slavery, and beyond, through stories of Spring’s life and Tempe’s death. Through vivid descriptions, complex characters, and haunting, the novel explores 24 years in America’s slaveholding past over 24 hours in its post-emancipation present. Remembered is the story of Spring, his mother, and her dead sister Tempe’s journey to lead Edward home.

Below, you can read an extract from Remembered.

From Remembered

‘Ready or not, here we come!’ Tempe shouts.

Watson, long brown legs and thin bony arms flailing, is already halfway to the porch. He’s panting and sweating. His chest pumps hard. I just watch it, glistening.


Tempe’s long, shapely legs carry her to within inches of Watson. It don’t look like she’s hardly breathing. She cuts through the yard with hardly no effort at all. It don’t seem fair. Tempe can catch him anytime she wants. She knows the land and made the rules.

‘Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha.’ I tap each little head quickly, dashing from one to the next so I can turn back to the race. There are no tears this time. The little hearts race along with Watson’s.


Watson is just a few strides ahead of Tempe. If she leans forward just a little more she’ll have him. If not, he’ll reach the porch, Sanctuary, seconds before her. He slows, and even from the back of his head I know he’s grinning. He zags sharply. You’re running the wrong way! I can’t get the words out fast enough. But then I see. He isn’t running the wrong way at all.

The women must have heard the commotion. Armed with broomsticks they take to the porch in synchronized annoyance. They stand guard. Around back, the men have already stopped talking about the war, escape and freedom. They’re out front, gruff voices whispering: Run.

Tempe must have seen it then. We all do. Watson isn’t running for the porch. Tempe stops. She stands still whispering: Run, run, run, along with everybody else. Watson never stops running. I wish he had taken me with him.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Vic Pickup, "Lost & Found"

Vic Pickup
is a previous winner of the Café Writers and Cupid’s Arrow Competitions, and she was shortlisted for the National Poetry Day #speakyourtruth prize on YouTube last year. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies, magazines and online, recently published by Mslexia, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Village and Reach Poetry. Lost & Found is Vic’s debut pamphlet, published by Hedgehog Poetry Press. She tweets @vicpickup and her website is

About Lost & Found

The lockdown of 2020 has presented, for many, a time to think - to consider the good, the bad, the haves and the have-nots, what’s lost and what’s been found. This short collection observes individual losses and gains through a lens, seeing what’s going, gone, and what unexpected treasures emerge as we walk this untrodden path. In a world of chaos, these poems help us reconnect over common ground, through the shared experiences brought about in these unreal times.  

Below, you can read two poems from the collection. 

‘Beyond the Love of Women’ 

Harry Billinge MBE

You’re stuck there cold in a hole 
with bullets popping like corn in your head,
taking down brothers in sheets

and then, flung, sack heavy, 
a boy across your lap,
red berries leaking hot 
and sticky on your arms and fingers 

and he looks at you, not with anguish or fear
but bewilderment; 

as he tightens the hold, 
the whites of his eyes turn to porcelain.
And all you can feel, slumped and wet 
as the greying sludge curdles beneath you, is love. 
And the crushing loss of it. 

Lost and Found

You got up by yourself this morning,
put on your own knickers,
said you fancied eggs and bacon.

You went outside – first time in two years,
to breathe the dawn air and
survey the world since you left it.

In a few days, you remembered 
your name, the dog’s, who I was,
that the postman wasn’t your Dad.

You exchanged pleasantries
with the woman next door, no longer 
suspecting her of plotting your murder. 

The hairdresser turned your flat feathers 
into a helmet of curls in the mirror
igniting a glimmer of recognition.

We chucked the grab rails and Complan
drove the zimmer to the tip, turned 
your pill box into earring storage.

Weeks went by, you took the car out,
joined the library, had a stab at calligraphy,
tried your first chai latte. 

Then on Sunday we came home and there 
you were on hands and knees under the table, 
looking for something; you didn’t know what. 

Friday 23 October 2020

Congratulations to Talia Hibbert!

Many congratulations to Talia Hibbert, whose new novel, Take A Hint, Dani Brown, has just been published. Talia took a degree in English with Creative Writing at the University of Leicester, and graduated in 2018. We are, of course, massively proud of her huge success!

Talia Hibbert is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes steamy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands. Her website is here

About Take A Hint, Dani Brown

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his … um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

You can find out more about Take A Hint, Dani Brown on Talia's website here

Saturday 17 October 2020

Maggie Brookes, "The Prisoner's Wife"

By Maggie Butt / Brookes

I have been writing stories and poems since I was six. After an English degree at Cardiff University I became a newspaper reporter, moving to BBC TV as an historical documentary writer / producer / director. I have published five poetry collections in the UK as Maggie Butt and my poetry website is

I have been married since 1982, and when our daughters were born I left the BBC and began teaching creative writing at Middlesex University, where I stayed for 30 years. It was a huge delight and privilege to foster the writing of others. In addition to writing and teaching, I have also been a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and Chair of the UK’s National Association of Writers in Education and have a PhD in Creative Writing from Cardiff. 

In spring 2020 (when all the bookshops were closed), my novel The Prisoner’s Wife was published in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Canada, by imprints of Penguin Random House, under my maiden name of Maggie Brookes. My fiction website is

About The Prisoner's Wife

Serendipity is an important part of a writer’s life, and it gave me the story which became The Prisoner’s Wife. It’s an extraordinary true story of love and courage, which was told to me in a lift by an ex-WW2 prisoner of war. He said, "I bet I could tell you a story about the war which would make your hair stand on end," and I was hooked.

He described the day two "escaped prisoners" were brought into the camp and one announced that the other was his Czech wife. The British PoWs decided to hide her in plain sight, dressed as a man, and she remained disguised as a soldier for the last six months of the war. I began to think what it was like for her to keep absolutely silent, to be surrounded every moment by men and under the gaze of the Nazi guards.

My research took me to the Imperial War Museum, to memoirs, letters, PoW Associations and finally to the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. I first wrote the story as a long narrative poem and it was published by Snakeskin poetry e-zine as a downloadable e-chapbook and MP3 recording. Then I decided it deserved a bigger audience, and wrote it as a novel.

Below, you can read an extract from the novel. 

From The Prisoner’s Wife

Everything was quiet and still, apart from the light crunch of our boots as we crept down the deserted street. The sliver of moon disappeared behind a cloud, and we slowed our pace, barely able to make out the way ahead.

That’s when we first heard the dogs. Only one bark at first, carrying in the quiet of the night. We clutched each other’s hands, and stood still for a moment.

Then another bark.  And another.  Not muffled by the walls of a building, but out in the night, like us, out in the streets. 

Instinctively we moved away from the sound, and the buildings glowered at us, closing in. My heart was drumming, and my breath came fast. We walked more quickly. The dogs were barking, closer, echoing off the buildings, perhaps two of them, perhaps three. We turned to see if they were in sight, but the darkness was too absolute. We were acutely aware of the noise of our boots on the cobbled road.

And then there were shouts behind us, men’s voices, excited to have something to do in the boredom of the night watch, egging on the dogs, eager for the hunt. Whichever way we turned, the dogs and the men grew closer and our boots clanged louder.

It became a town of sounds: our breath, the pounding of our own blood in our ears, the clatter of our boots on the road, the dogs barking, men running and calling, closer, closer. Perhaps we could have stopped, knocked on a door and begged for help, but we didn’t. We just kept going, faster and faster, running, Bill dragging me with him. I was breathless to keep up, my kit-bag banging awkwardly against my legs. 

At last there was an opening in the terrace, an archway which led into a narrow arcade, lined with dark shops. Towards the end of the alley was an even darker place which looked like another turning, but it was only a wide doorway, up two steps, set back and hidden until we drew level with it. 

Now the dogs were almost on us, and Bill pulled me up into the doorway, threw his arms around me, squeezed me very hard and whispered, “I’m so sorry,” into my hair.  Then he pushed me away from him, so we wouldn’t be found touching. I shut my eyes and waited for the dogs’ teeth, hoped it would be over quickly.

Everything seemed to happen at once: the dogs, the men, a searchlight in my face. I raised my arm to cover my eyes, and heard the panting breath of the men, the loudness of their voices. My teeth were chattering and I had to clamp them shut. The voices behind the light became one disembodied shout in German from the senior officer. “Hands up!  Against the wall!”

We stumbled down the two steps. Bill went to one side of the doorway, and I to the other. I raised my hands arms and leaned my face against the wall to stop myself from falling, feeling the rough of the brick against my cheek. 

Behind the wall I sensed the people who lived there, scurrying like mice, listening with excitement and maybe, who knows, with pity. I bit my lips, determined not to sob, not to let it end this way.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Alison Brackenbury, "Gallop"

Alison Brackenbury was born in 1953, from a long line of servants and skilled farm workers. Her work has won an Eric Gregory Award and a Cholmondeley Award, and has frequently been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Her radio features often reflect her passion for many kinds of music, including folk songs. She has published ten collections of poetry. Her most recent, Skies, (Carcanet, 2016), was chosen as a Poetry Book of the Year by The Observer. Gallop, her Selected Poems, was published in 2019 by Carcanet. She is very active on social media, posting quotations, nature photographs and occasional poems on Instagram, Facebook and, in accidental capitals, as @ABRACKENBURY, on Twitter. 

Alison can be heard reading a selection of her poems at the Poetry Archive site here. New poems can be read on her website here. Her recent reading for the Edward Thomas Literary Festival can be seen here.

About Gallop

By Alison Brackenbury

It is my earnest hope that poems are wiser than their writers. Certainly they preserve patterns which can be missed in the rush of daily life. (I had good reason for calling my Selected Poems Gallop ...). One of the earliest poems in my first book looked back to my grandparents’ generation, some of whom were still alive. It celebrated their talents and their kindness. Perhaps rather shyly – like them – it tried to sing. Above all, it saw their strengths, and their mysteries, as a beginning: a glimpse not just of the past, but of the future.

My Old

My old are gone; or quietly remain
Thinking me a cousin from West Ham,
Or kiss me, shyly, in my mother’s name.
(My parents seem to dwindle too; forget
Neat ending to a sentence they began,
Beginning of a journey; if not yet.)

Cards from village shops were sent to me
With postal orders they could not afford.
They pushed in roots of flowers, carelessly,
And yet they grew; they said a message came
To say the Queen was dead, that bells were heard.
My old are gone into the wastes of dream.

The snow froze hard, tramped down. Old footprints pit
Its smoothness, blackened footprints that I tread
That save me falling, though they do not fit
Exactly, stretching out beyond my sight.
My old are gone from name. They flare instead
Candles: that I do not have to light. 

(Published in Gallop: Selected Poems, Carcanet, 2019).

Like many generations of my family, I grew up in the country. From a remote Lincolnshire village and from tiny schools, I won a scholarship to study English. But I did not become an academic. My first job was as a librarian in a technical college. My last job (for 23 years) was as 50% of the manual workforce in my husband’s family metal finishing business. I lived in town, with too many cats. I spent almost all my free time on the hills, with a series of long-lived, always loved and sometimes unaffordable shaggy ponies. 

The advantage for a writer of this kind of unorthodox, physical, frantically busy life is that it throws up compelling subjects. The danger is that there is little time to write about them, or to keep technique as supple as the newly-oiled bridle in the kitchen.

I hope that, in my middle years, sometimes troubled, sometimes exhilarating, that enough was salvaged ...

After the X-ray

If he had stayed
in the four white walls
or alone in his patch, the untidy hedge
strewing its roses through empty hours
he would never have met the dark mare
whose neck he licked by the elderflower
whose kick snapped his straight cannonbone.

For sixteen weeks he must stand in the straw
watching the light wash and ebb.
All warmth will have flowed past when he stumbles out
November's wind raw on his leg.
Was it worth it?  He shuffles, he cranes to the lane,
calls her, and calls her again.

(Published in Gallop: Selected Poems, Carcanet, 2019).

In my sixties, in a strange season beyond horses, I had to leaf through thirty years of poems, to choose those which I wanted to fit into one book.  I realised that my work had changed. The new century had brought me closer to the songs which my grandfather sang to me (raucously). Like those songs, my newer poems almost always rhymed. They drew on my thirty years of living in a small Gloucestershire town. They also recalled the astonishingly dark nights of my Lincolnshire childhood. They thought of the living and of the dead. They tried, as I still do, to find their music.


It began, like wonder, back there
in the village’s dark huddle
which I can never visit, like a star.

In high orbit, warm muddle,
my father’s hard-packed arms, I passed.
Winter wind stilled, hedge and puddle

pure ice.  Above my wreath of breath,
the weak eye of the one streetlight
beyond Back Lane and Temple Garth,

skies pricked with white until the night
swam with its stars.  In their grave blaze
they filled my gaze like wings in flight

which never left, unlike the house,
the anxious moves, my mother’s care.
For years I stood by my own house

with books and charts.  My father there
could only name the tilted Plough
he followed with the snorting pair.

But I found Pegasus, the slow
sweep of the Swan, a fierce red eye,
the Bull.  I watched the Hunter go

with frost’s belt, over towns where I
now lived, where, still, the galaxy
boiled by his sword in clouding sky.

The books are laid aside. I see
new roofs, more weak lamps.  Whirled and free
the stars, my calm dead, walk with me.        

(Published in Gallop: Selected Poems, Carcanet, 2019).

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Matthew Stewart, "The Knives of Villalejo"

Matthew Stewart, photo by Marina Rodriguez

Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura and West Sussex. Following two pamphlets with HappenStance Press, he published his first full collection, The Knives of Villalejo, with Eyewear Books in 2017. His more recent poems have featured in The Spectator, The New European and Wild Court. He blogs at Rogue Strands.

About The Knives of Villalejo

By Matthew Stewart

My poems begin with the truth. They then generate a world that lies beyond mere facts, reaching out for authenticity of feeling, aiming to generate a jolt of recognition that enables readers to set off on their own journeys. 

The piece from The Knives of Villalejo that follows is a case in point. It might ostensibly be about an incident at a wine trade fair in Germany, but that's not to say the incident in question took place there or even took place at all as portrayed in these lines. There was, however, a moment somewhere, somehow, a memory that demanded to be captured and then transformed. This process ended up as an implicit invitation to readers to reach beyond a posh hotel in Düsseldorf, to recall, renew and reassess their own experiences. How did they learn to deal with their school tie? Do their parents somehow still accompany them when they undertake a task that was taught at home decades earlier?

At Prowein

In a plush, anonymous room
just before the trade fair opens,
I reach for a tie, ignoring 
the looming, wall-to-wall mirror.

I close my eyes and stall my thoughts,
and Dad’s behind me once again.
We coax a perfect, funnelled knot
and pour me out as if to school.

Friday 2 October 2020

Gregory Leadbetter, "Maskwork"

Gregory Leadbetter is the author of two poetry collections, Maskwork (2020) and The Fetch (2016), both with Nine Arches Press, as well as the pamphlet The Body in the Well (HappenStance Press, 2007), and (with photographs by Phil Thomson) Balanuve (Broken Sleep, 2021). His book Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) won the University English Book Prize 2012. He has published widely on Romantic poetry and thought, twentieth-century and contemporary poetry, and he has written poetry and radio drama for the BBC. Five poems from The Fetch have been set to music for piano and voice by the composer and pianist Eric McElroy (listen here). He is Professor of Poetry at Birmingham City University.

About Maskwork

By Gregory Leadbetter

In theatre and ritual, a mask acts an organ of becoming, seeing, and knowing. It embodies and enables an altered state, both in its wearer and its witnesses: grants access to an otherworld, to mysteries hidden within and beyond ourselves, to experiences that call to and quicken powers of life and being. Poetry has always been akin to theatre and ritual for me, in this way, and the title of this book, Maskwork, expresses that connection. It is also a riposte to literal-mindedness, and the damage it inflicts upon us. But how can the imaginary be real?

When the right conditions have been created, the non-realism of the imaginative act cuts through the passing show that for most of us, most of the time, passes for reality, to speak to the fundamentals of our being: the ecstatic wakefulness we know in love, compassion, sex, desire, fear, awe, and wonder. In this way, the show – the theatre, the ritual, the art – of poetry touches the roots and springs of our reality, the fibres of its making. It acts as a germinal power on our feeling and thinking, our empathy and our agency – our capacity to communicate with and act in concert with the astonishing fabric of our own lives: a fabric continuous with the greater life that we inhabit, in all its mystery, visible and invisible, unactual but active.

That’s what I want from poetry, and what I hope the poems in Maskwork give to their readers.

To learn more about Maskwork, and to hear the poem ‘Archaeopteryx,’ you can watch the trailer for the book here. You can read ‘Archaeopteryx,’ and a note about its composition, here.

Below you can read one of the poems from Maskwork.


I want speech that makes my skin
more than the book I have made
of its membrane
   silent as lips
   at the mouth
that leans from the air

   and this is how
that work in my flesh began:
the desire that drew me like sap
to its tip, where I hung by my voice
   from the whispering ash
   that grew in the garden
   it made of my death
for runes cut by the tongue to touch
every beginning that is to come
to the egg from which I was born.

I learned to know love by the names that I made
and the names took bodies of their own
that glistered with the dust of their home:
unblinking at the strangeness of what I had done
in piercing their silence, sending my voice
to open as an iris under their sun:
they pluck it from the pulsing earth and come.

I have woken to moonlight leaking from the wound:
   the skin that I speak with
   fresh with the blood of its wish.

‘Gramarye’ was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2020.

Thursday 1 October 2020

Alyse Bensel, "Rare Wondrous Things"

Alyse Bensel is the author of Rare Wondrous Things, a poetic biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (Green Writers Press, July 2020), and three poetry chapbooks, most recently Lies to Tell the Body (Seven Kitchens Press, 2018). Her recent poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Pleiades, Puerto del Sol, Ruminate, West Branch, and elsewhere. Her fiction and nonfiction have been featured at The Boiler, Entropy, and Pithead Chapel. She currently serves as Poetry Editor for Cherry Tree and as section editor of Theory, Culture, and Craft for the Journal of Creative Writing Studies (JCWS), an open access, peer-reviewed journal. Her book reviews have appeared in AGNI, Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, Literary Mama, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and many other journals. Alyse is an assistant professor of English at Brevard College, where she directs the Looking Glass Rock Writers' Conference. Her website is here.  

About Rare Wondrous Things

By Alyse Bensel

Rare Wondrous Things is a poetic biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), a German artist and naturalist who made ground-breaking discoveries in entomology. I chose the term "poetic biography" rather than "biography in poems" to highlight the fragmentation and gaps in understanding Sibylla Merian's life. Since only about a dozen letters of her personal and professional correspondence still exist, and her other writings were mostly observational notes, this collection undertakes the impossible task of reconstructing Sibylla Merian's voice and complexities. As one of the first Western Europeans to illustrate the ecological connections that occur during Lepidoptera (i.e. butterfly and moth) metamorphosis, Sibylla Merian led an exceptional life—she even travelled to Suriname colony at 52 years old in the pursuit of knowledge—yet her name has largely remained in obscurity and her personal life shrouded in mystery, especially in an American context. These poems investigate her legacy by exploring the tensions between science and religion, professional aspirations and motherhood, wifehood and independence, and biographer and subject.

Below, you can read three poems from Rare Wondrous Things.

Maria Sibylla Merian

To kill a butterfly quickly

hold a darning needle
point to the flame. Let
it glow hot and red. Stick

it alive—it will die
fast with no damage
to its wings. Coat the little

cedar box where its body
is placed with lavender oil,
so worms cannot bore

in to feed. Follow these
notations here precisely.
Preserve and keep each

rare, wondrous thing
and never have it fade
if kept forever from sun

in its now still sanctuary.

Engraved in Copper and Published Herself

My husband always stayed close
to drink, red-faced with a smile loose

like unspooled thread on the table set
aside for me as a girl, scattered

with embroidery and watercolors. I skirted
the law—my stepfather agreed to let me

watch his apprentices work coating
copper plates with wax, taking up

feathers to copy designs while they mixed
inks smelling of earth and crushed shells.

The machinery radiated elemental heat.
My mother made me scrub my ink

stained hands until they reddened raw,
palms cracked. I had the precision

of smaller hands. I accrued skill
until I could be set to marry

a man who watched my talents
grow, who needed a better family name.

He became my printing press, the source
of copper and care to wipe the ink, perfect

the line. I measured the cut into metal, a relief
bit into wax design. The ink settled into

miniature valleys made with needlepoint,
an embroidery for what lasts longer

than velvet. I washed away the excess.
I had been left so little. He gained.

Wild Wasps & Nipple Fruit

A two-woman play about Maria Sibylla Merian in Suriname by Karen Eve Johnson
“What kind of woman is this? She is not like the other Hollanders. No man beside her. She always has her nose in the insects. Always why and how.”

Jacoba is a woman erased
on the ship’s passenger log.
She and Maria hope to learn
of a life in heat and another life
distant and wind-struck, self-made.
A daughter is lost. A daughter is
absent offstage. Trapped inside
her own projected watercolors,
Maria flutters. Jacoba watches.

For light Jacoba collects lantern
flies. She tells Maria how to use
bright flowers that end in death:
the moon flower, its creamy white
poison for everyone but a caterpillar.
The peacock flower, to rid oneself
of children that would wither.
She counts her life in losses,
what she cannot regain.
Maria, her mouth sharpened
by the heat, the wasps, bids her to go.
Her frustrations grow out
of fertile soil doused in sugar.

News travels slower in the heat.
The morphos daze on, oblivious.
Maria grasps onto work, yet the fever
sweats on and holds. Jacoba wonders
how one can love so many creatures
but not want to free her own.