Her words might have been those
of the Iraqi reporter when he cracked
and hurled both of his shoes
at the US President in Baghdad

with the same fury as the wife
of the Sultan Ezz Al-Din
pulled off her clogs and used them to pound
his killer, another wife, to death –

the woman we pass on a Marseille hill
raging alone, ripping off one shoe
and flinging it into the road

then doing the same with the second
and leaving them, storming on barefoot,
this is a gift, you dog, this is the farewell kiss.


Here, where the Ogden slows beneath the arches
into deep, still pools
overgrown with balsam and wild garlic

they came on rare, warm
Sunday afternoons, the workers
from the mills, in their best garb

which they stripped off –
the high bank strewn with waistcoats, shirts –
slipping from overhanging darkness into the darkness

of water, letting go –
here they lost their ragged edges,
they were pale and clear, flecked by sun

in the water as river trout
and as graceful, turning and turning –
they acquire grace, they persist on the retina

like fish or the leaves
that float and catch the light for a moment
before they too sink, settling on each other.

Dearest reader! Our newsletter!

Sign up to our newsletter for the latest content, freebies, news and competition updates, right to your inbox. From the oldest literary periodical in the UK.

You can unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or directly on Find our privacy policies and terms of use at the bottom of our website.