Susan Darlington


Kingfisher dived
into the blue
of her veins.

Bubbles of air
became trapped
in its feathers

and the hollows
of its bones filled
with yellow light.

When it surfaced
it pulled her
from the place

where hope
was just another
dying word.


Toppled last season – roots praying
to the sky and the trunk hollowed
by sinful winds – she worms
into a crawl space warm with decay.

Crickets tumble over her shoulders
and reverent spiders veil her face
with white webs for a wedding
to which she’s had no invitation.

She lays still at the altar
and listens to the blackness.
As her heart slows to ring growth
and her breath becomes carbon

she hears the tree’s rustled vows
but doesn’t know if, wedded,
she’ll emerge to burrow into soil
or grow wings and finally soar.


When he traces the line of a scar
and asks me what happened
I tell him it was a dog attack.

It’s not quite a lie, I think,
because I have run from a pack
of black dogs time and again.

The faint white marks on my arms
are proof that I out-paced
the chorus of midnight howls

when they said I was stupid;
that I wasn’t good enough;
they’d be better off without me.

I don’t tell him about the days
when they curl up beside me
and lick the scars until they’re raw;

nibble the scabs with their small,
sharp teeth and grow stronger
on the iron drained from my body

or that while I can push them away –
order them to sit, heel, beg –
I can’t stop them pawing at the door.

Susan Darlington’s poetry regularly explores the female experience through nature-based symbolism and stories of transformation. It has been published in Nymphs, Dreich, Dream Catcher, Anti-Heroin Chic, Hedgehog Press, and Ethel Zine among others. She has two books available: ‘Traumatropic Heart’ (Selcouth Station, 2021) and ‘Under The Devil’s Moon’ (Penniless Press Publications, 2015). A third book is due to be published in 2022 (’Never Wear White’, Alien Buddha Press, TBC). Follow her at @S_sanDarlington  

Flights, Issue Four, April 2022