Heron He crashes into the canal path one night in November and reclines in noodle wrappers and broken bottles, one deck shoe peeks through the browning cocksfoot as the idle consider his snapped neck. It points to a curved wing, the waning blade of a beak, his body rotting beneath dull feathers. Above his neck the questions form. I stand with my blue skull scarf fluttering, remembering hands as they crept under my dress, creeping up, up and I stare past this old carcass as the memory creeps until my gold ring catches his beak and two worlds start to glint, glint in the sun. Songs of Flesh (i) I smell tight and clean the brackish tang of raindrops damp prayer at dawn. (ii) You are lions breath blaze of sun beating muscle hot wind rasping sand. (iii) After the rasping juice soaks through the leather fronds. New mint. Petrichor. (iv) Singed lashes flutter hair feathers over belly birdsong at sunset. (v) Slurp of blistering tongues our bodies gibber and cuff chord of the full moon. Kajal Stick and Powder Unfaithful is not the moment I lean in to kiss him in a room thick with burning cigarettes and black sky, in a room swirling with metal guitar and red lights that turn the plump blonde body, pink. That was faithlessness. Lurching mouth leading, bearing my teeth. No, thats not unfaithful. Unfaithful starts on the grey bus home, my first hangover my rounded image pale and red eyed in the mirror of the unseen drivers periscope, my trembling hand in the make up bag, fumbling to project the right image, easier than facing my ugliness in someone else’s eye.
Claire HM writes as an act of healing that is an invitation for others to create the stories they need to access healing too.
In 2019 she had an essay published in the anthology, I Wrote it Anyway, about her experience of accessing university, and the long journey of finding the confidence to write as a woman from a working class background. How to Bring Him Back, her debut novella set in the seedier side of 90s Birmingham, is a story framed by a spell to let go of the past and will be published by Fly on the Wall press in October 2021. A short series of Brummie monologue poems giving voice to Classical female literary characters are upcoming in Tears in the Fence.
She has most recently been published in Black Flowers Literary Journal, streetcake, Mooky Chick, CapeMagazine and Nymphs.
(www.clairehm.com / IG and Twitter: @clairehmwriter)