Rebecca Perry


beaches (7)

–– morning of her execution
offered a glass of water ––

she famously dreamed
of the sea draining away
vast pit of abandoned space

– – (7am) must not wear black dress
so: white cotton
black petticoat
white cap with black ribbon
has been bleeding profusely
(uterine fibroma)
wishes to change skirt
does so
shielded only by rosalie
who cuts her hair short ––

she spoke
of fish flipping in death
moon’s blinding light thrown off their scales
‘like a catastrophe’

 –– hands tied behind her back (10am) ––

sought opinions
of numerous advisers
to decipher the dream
you will know a great thirst’ etc

–– cour du mai (11am)
open cart
two large white horses
30,000 men to prevent escape ––

unsatisfied (marie)
visited a beach at night
walked into its darkness

–– climbs steps to scaffold
apologises for stepping on executioner’s foot ––

contemporary accounts record
 ‘troubling dream ceased’
upon waterline reaching her neck
pure panic rose in her chest
and fish swarmed at her feet’


beaches (10)

this interminable christmas
most often i am alone at night
in my blue room
which is my preference

most recent rumour is a ghost came in the night         to fellate him
because even the dead like to please and leave a token of their visit
in this case
a black hair wrapped around his penis in ten full circles

when the frost lifts a dirty smell comes off the river and in through the windows

ghosts have no blood
no flesh    no bones    no muscles    no skin as we know it
but hair which continues to grow and shed
i do understand that most people would desire not to be forgotten

increasingly i am drawn to violence        in the early evening
in my purple room
bad words in my books                blood in war scenes on tapestries
dead horses                    impaled men and boys
people say            i am showing my ugly side

rumour is that the ghost was me because
witchcraft       soul already gone               ability to hear insects     impervious to poison

i think the exact moment of the death of love is not when its head is cut off
and lifted to the crowd
it is a cold stone in the stomachs of the living

ghosts have no blood but the insides of their mouths are alive with a certain flesh

at dinner the candles throw unholy shadows
a cooked peacock sits on the table folded back inside its feathers
and the tail fanned and rigid
through its numerous green eyes
i watch the room zing with warm-blood people     each avoiding my face
tomorrow we will eat another beast      a spoil of our small small war

the wall against my cheek is practically ice and the night sky is loveless
what am i trying to say
fear seems heavier in winter             in my hard room
as the swans separate and the snow comes down


beaches (14)

lemon juice
in your cuticle cuts
is not punishment
for anything

it is one star
crossing another
in a flat sky
it is god

lemon juice
lifts almost any dish
roll it on the worktop
be thankful

remember what
you’re made of
get squeezing
pain can be
a gift


Rebecca Perry‘s first collection, Beauty/Beauty (Bloodaxe Books, 2015), was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. She has a pamphlet, cleanliness of rooms and walls, from If A Leaf Falls Press. She co-edits the online journal Poems in Which.

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