(Old Wives’ Summer)
we gather the first misty skeins
dip them in piss-starch, dwindle and spin them into wires
that twitch with all the conversations of the world.
We may choose to drown them in a milky ditch
or whisper them home:
we have no appetite for love but dawdle where young men
rise out of clear pools, shaking drops free in golden,
needle-fine constellations – we sew them old, heart-stuffed bodies,
and when we drape the bright mesh over, each hero shivers.
we grow weary of figs and pomegranates,
sip one another from long spoons, sigh for that honeycomb
to glisten slickly on the tongue, gulp/
gulp till the forschung puppy-fat is gone:
we hang shoes from elms,
snip babies’ hair and set one curl in forfeit on the pillow,
knit their moth-breath into storms, throw ourselves down hills
in snarls of birds-nest, crying
prayers for cannon-food, tumbleweed, the eye-bones of sluttish husbands.
From the hairs on our chin we weave soft, slow, snowdrifts
that numb the flail and weathervane
in spiderly baptismal shawls or shrouds
through which dirty light frays, in, out,
in, out, like lungs, breathing.
Pippa Little was born in East Africa, raised in Scotland and now lives in Northumberland. Her first collection, The Spar Box, (Vane Women), was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. Foray from Biscuit Press and The Snow Globe, from Red Squirrel, preceded her first full collection Overwintering (Carcanet) in 2012, which was shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. She is a Hawthornden Fellow and takes up a Royal Literary Fund Fellowship at Newcastle University this year. Her work is widely published in online and print journals and in anthologies.