"Song": a new poem by Emily Berry

after Luna Miguel

When I became mermaid it was for this reason.
The girl I love is a beautiful boy.
So you would not ask questions.
Because I gave myself up to the rain
but it was too late; the rain could not save me.
And when I thought the line was straight,
I was wrong; I could not follow the line.
Thus the shore, infinitely. Thus these rocks.
There was so much to feel good and sorry about.
And I shut my legs up tight, I shut my eyes.
So I could see him better, so I could see her.

Emily Berry’s debut poetry collection, Dear Boy, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2013.

This article first appeared in the 13 August 2014 issue of the New Statesman, A century of meddling in the Middle East

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"Samphire": a poem by Alison Brackenbury

"Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light. . . ."

My grandmother could cook it, for
she grew up by that dangerous shore
where the sea skulked without a wall

where I have seen it, tough as grass,
where silent men with rods trooped past
its salty ranks, without a glance.

Lear’s gatherer hangs perilously.
Why? So much is closed to me.
Did Shakespeare ever hear the sea?

Once, said my father, far inland,
from friend or stall, one clutch was found,
steamed, in my grandmother’s great pan.

Once, a smooth leaflet from a shop
claimed they could “source it”, but they stocked
bunched, peppered cress – Another gap.

Yet how it waved, in coast’s late light,
stalks I will never taste, could make
tenderly dark, my coast’s sly snake,
salt on my tongue, before I wake.

Alison Brackenbury is an award-winning poet. Her ninth collection, Skies, will be published by Carcanet in March

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle