Di Slaney – Two Poems

Reward for winter

For the first time in her adult life,
she allowed herself to sweat, to leave
dust under her fingernails, to be
imprecise. As spring leached into
summer, heat snaked through pores
and found her chilly core that
hadn’t seen daylight or action
in years. No amount of SPF could
block her thaw once it started;
the field licked folds of her mind
with a green velvet tongue.
Every night she inhaled the sky,
tasted clouds and stars, heard
ten million blades of grass sing
for rain. She stroked the dark like
a cat, rubbed against rough wooden
fence posts till warmth spread inside
out, urging her on. And when she came
back to herself, she could smell every
animal she’d touched on her fingers,
their oils and dirt mixed with her own.
She’d never felt so loose, so unfinished



Every dawn she looks up, sucks on doing words
to break her fast, breathes in the day. So many
to roll around a mouth starved of soil; she grinds
their grit between her teeth, their loam clagging
under her tongue, a raised bed to plant the seedlings
from her mind. Words like tupping and scouring,
moulting and docking, dagging and flagging. They
make her smile, these hard sounds that taste as
they paint, no place for dainty ears now. Crutching,
fettling, suckling; leaching, pleaching, polling. More
than a syllable string, the day’s to do list pinned down
sharp, big tasks made small. In the holding, she
learns what no course can teach; the weaning from
loss, tears drenching knackerman and carcass,
a voice not her own harrowing life to the wind.





Di Slaney is a poet and smallholder who lives in Nottinghamshire. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University and has co-owned Candlestick Press since 2010. Her poems have been published in various magazines including Magma, The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House and Brittle Star, and twice shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Her debut pamphlet Dad’s Slideshow was published by Stonewood Press in 2015.

Reward for Winter (Valley Press) was Highly Commended in the 2016 Forward Prizes



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s