by Amber Brierley

I wrote these poems throughout lockdown to try and fathom a moment in time which is both a torment and honour to endure… though so much has been stripped away, the mundane experiences, those things often taken for-granted, now have this newfound, deep value as if we are rediscovering them again. And I guess also the feeling that everything is shifting, transforming as we strive to adjust with that.


Anatomy Of A Dragon Fly 

My dragonfly is not what you talk of
In poetry or encyclopaedia:

Silver stained metallic
Iridescent blade 
Of feverish emerald.
Conspicuous flyer 
Patterning the surface 
Of a lulled eye… 

Folk call you sinister 
You agile haze you 
Nymph of a water baby

My dragonfly stays still-
Veined wings of black borderlines 
You look at me from all sides
Tuned for carrying the weight
Of burdened souls

Hold your wings at rest
Folded just above the abdomen-
As a saintly reminder 
Of praying voices
Held behind tainted glass, strips of lead. 

But you’ve been misunderstood, dear 
The morse code of reverberations 
Speaks through the dark 
In beats of light

Dot- dash – dot- dash- dash 
Dot-dash- dash 

I tremble, as if to lift you to a kiss
Only Now do I understand 
A familiar mystery
But consequence deems you lost
So I am 
Yet again.


Bird’s Nests 

Burning bird’s nests 
Allotment fire
The blue speckled egg
Goes up in flames
The embers of sacrifice
The body consumed 
A structure collapses 
And resorts to thorns.
She reached in her mind,
But not with hands, bound-
Brown and blue
In jumper sleeves.
‘put on your coat, darling’
A father’s command.
Warped in the light
Of sweet amendment
That should have taken me with it 
But left me, shivering
As a smudged moral cusps 
Upon the venting orchid; 
ivory, slice with ash
And Lucifer; 
Coils of carcinogenic smoke
Rises like a blue mist
Lifting from the sockets of my eyes
Enveloping everything and everyone 
I once loved
The briar keepsake is no more
Resistance is no more.
And now, it seemed like
Everything was ending 
In reincarnation all at once.


April seventh

April seventh
A pink supermoon
A rise, yet
Cannot rise
Head in hands, heavy
Knees pressing into
My aching breast.
To touch with an ache-
Flesh manifests
Shape shifts around me as
I recoil. Surrender
Into embryonic guise.
I wish I could go back
To a honey-comb core
To be

A time capsule, sealed with wax

Shrouded is the undulating veil of innocence
And ephemeral youth
As an orchid child
Deep, deep
In the dark and the dirt
With my gold locks of hair
(cut off, cut off)
And milk teeth in a glass jar on
The kitchen shelf.

Love turns spiteful in her mouth
As words turn bitter.
Sticky, distorted
Burnt on hot-blooded tongues 
Like molten sugar.

I glimpse a shard of mirror
Anticipating affection
Searching narcissism 
Wounds choked up with tape 
But blood still drips 
from inner bones, saturating the soil 
until it is all stained


The Ceremony 

Beauty alone is not immoral,
Like flower, feelings of euphoria or
Sympathy, from a child.
It is when paired with a person
That is becomes something

We are the numb generation
Clay and cloth and straw 
I am the sacrifice-
Feet burning
Without a ritual. 
Giving everything
But why?
An enchanted effigy
Pins stuck in the voodoo doll
Possess me, my limbs wouldn’t care.
They’re not mine.
She is harder than you think. Hard.
But her head droops-

Everything silent except
Hollow bells, ceaselessly ringing 
Without dictation, no words
Only a screaming silence 
In the ardent tone of prayer.

The light demands- a justification
What should I do, what should I do
Get up. Rise. But
The negative space defines us.
We see in sky holes
Amongst the foliage. 

With pursed lips, she smiles
But not from the eyes anymore.
Flashes, streaks of celestial sphere
Preserved on cold pools of blue

Delusion is her last resort.

I dream of swimming.
The pupils of my mother and father
Dilate into one
A gothic vision of childhood yearning
Brings heavy rains in the night.
The concealed eye escapes
Our only evidence
Salt dried on plumes.
Naked, convinced
Soaked in love-
Bury me soaked in love.



I have dust on my feet
As I step out of a fossilised self
Time turns carbon into diamonds 
And emptiness invites us 
To improvise. 

We set out-
Hope as a bright insomnia
Possessed by women.
Move low, then 
In rising confidence
A shared hush.

We anticipate the scale-
Careful not to bare 
The push and pull 
Of a conscience 

In a land Composed of 
Singular colour
The carnivorous blue grasses
Eat at our ankles

Our truths have grown abstract 
In the equilibrium shift 
As Mother Earth 
Holds her breathe. 

White wings outstretched 
Across the un-conforming landscape 
The ore in withdrawn, unscathed, tender  
From sacred depths 
Like the great plumage of a swan. 

Lotus blooms and new-borns
(Blessing for the dawn)
Tears Fall in hot wax 
From a restless soul.
Scolds, implores, vows 
We are the mere apprentice 
To self-expression.