Kerry Darbishire


to be that close     feel leeches    frogs and trout
       arrive and leave with the seasons     to have  
damsels     beetles finding their way    and clouds  
        in brief attendance admiring their fullness 
to learn her songs drifting largo of morning air    
        forte after rain    to borrow 
her summer pearls     winter glitz     the way 
       she dances in days of sun      nights of moons    
to measure her ever-changing weight 
       of fell-rain     scree     all that is thrown at her – 
carcases     tree limbs     blocking her every move 
       I envy the hundred-year-old bridges grown weak
at her touch   the boulders lodged in her bed 
       like bodyguards at club doors     and to know 
who she is after drought     the scent and ease 
       in which her skin recovers after scorching sun 

the way she takes hellish weather for granted     greets 
       floods     holds and lets herself go     breaking banks 
thick with foxglove and fern      sweeping villages 
       and towns to one side     to be unafraid
                                          of losing herself to the sea

RIVER TALK After Raymond Carver

I’d slip across mossy rocks
to catch your intonations
clear as glass splintering morning air,

accents you taught me
before the scent of pine lifted    
from your tongue, before blackbirds

and traffic spilled over the bridge.
Come autumn you’d growl open-mouthed 
through the woods towards me

louder than a stream, faster than a beck
bold as a heron I’d wait on the brim.
Sometimes a rush of hungry dippers

murmured through marigold edges
like angels but I didn’t need saving
I learned to measure the highs

and lows of your voice even in winter
when your lips barely moved,
and you held me like a mother

in a perfume of breathy lullabies
sinking deep into my pillow
and I clung as if I was your child

to every word you whispered 
like fog shifting from your skin.
All night I’d lie awake 

listening to the sound the water made

until I was fluent.

BIRTHDAY for Rebecca

I hear you’re journeying friends 
into the underworld, guiding them 

through deep places to disentangle roots   
blocking their way forward. 

Like Persephone stolen by Hades from her meadow
I always knew one day you’d leave  

to move among husks below my feet, 
collect the seeds from flowers gathered 

for our table after school. I hear you 
mixing pigment, scent, dipping brushes 

into cadmium, rose madder, manganese blue, 
shifting bluebell bulbs, clover, bistort in the dark

to lighten overcast corridors. Today is your birthday, 
the first time we cannot be together.

Kerry Darbishire lives in Cumbria where most of her poetry is rooted. She has two poetry collections with Indigo Dreams, a pamphlet with Dempsey and Windle, a collaborative pamphlet with Grey Hen Press and a third full collection forthcoming with Hedgehog Press.

Twitter @kerrydarbishire

Poetry:         A Lift of Wings – Indigo Dreams

                    Distance Sweet on my Tongue – Indigo Dreams

                     (Cumbria Life Culture Awards FINALIST 2019)

                    A Window of Passing Light


Biography:   Kay’s Ark – Handstand Press

Flights, Issue Five, June 2022