As someone who cannot control her eating or weight and has spent years trapped in this terrible cycle, this poem resonated with me so much. Lines like ‘because it weighs her like ballast/because it fits like a straitjacket’ are so full of truth. This poem exactly replicates the feelings of shame and loneliness that I and so many of us will know, as the protagonist sits in that cubicle on her own. It is beautifully controlled and pared down to the necessary pieces. There is no over-egging of the pudding here (please excuse the food related reference). Neither is there in the next poem, ‘Speechless’, which is so direct and perfect that it made me cry. – Jane Burn, guest editor
she gulps peach slices and tinned pears
cured meats and memories preserved in brine
she gulps Jaffa Cakes
and slabs of processed solitude
she is in a lavatory
in a cold room
on her lunch break
at six minutes past one
she does it quietly, steadily
because no-one’s told her to
because it weighs her like ballast
because it fits like a straitjacket
it tastes of habit,
of sugared almonds,
of sleeping pills
and warm milk
of something that once flowed abundantly
but she kept to herself
like a fresh cut.
First published in Envoi, issue 155, and subsequently in my poetry collection To Know Bedrock (Pindrop, 2011)
A butterfly’s wings fold and unfold
like pages of a tiny notebook;
wind shuffles through poplar,
cherry and peach.
So small I didn’t feel it on my hand –
walks a tightrope thread
from my chair
to yours, carrying
my words on its back.
First published in The North, issue 53, and subsequently in my poetry collection The Art of Egg (Two Ravens, 2015; Pindrop, 2019). It also appeared on Poems in the Waiting Room poetry card no. 80.
Sharon Black is from Glasgow and lives in a remote valley of the Cévennes mountains of France. Her poetry is published widely and she has won many prizes for her work, most recently the Guernsey International Poetry Competition 2019 and The London Magazine Poetry Prizes 2019 and 2018. She is editor of Pindrop Press. Her two collections are To Know Bedrock (Pindrop, 2011) and The Art of Egg (Two Ravens, 2015; Pindrop 2019). Her third is due out in 2020 from TLM Editions. http://www.sharonblack.co.uk