At Night my Body is a Furnace
No one told me this process is electric/ice fractals to desert mirage/I dream I am trapped in a car parked at Fish Hook Bay/where a man surfed the rotten carcass of a whale/out here I am blind to the flame's brilliance/harried by the ticking of matriarchal clocks/even the recent past becomes a faraway land/ferns damask my amygdala/old pathways seal shut/impurities slough away/we are dropped into the world like a wolf cub, we go out like a lamb/woman redundant/woman triumphant/woman on the verge of the change.
After James Tate
I found myself in an equestrian barn containing faded
farm machinery and fitted out with roomy stalls. My
right hand in front of me, unrecognisable, was brushing
the coat of a dark-coloured warmblood. After a few
moments a man entered the barn and asked me to throw
down a hay bale from the loft. "Of course, right way sir"
I said. "You are an odd fish today" he replied, laughing.
As I ascended the ladder, my skull began to elongate
east to west, brimming with bright white clouds and sea
breezes. My limbs bristled with new energy to form
oscillating levers, powered struts, springs and cushions.
I knew that beyond the square entrance above me
was moorland. I knew the land was piebald-splashed
with granite tor and rough grasses. I knew a herd
of one thousand wild ponies lived there, and because
I had thirsted so long for this, I would be anointed
one of them. I hesitated on the last step, aware
that this time the path had split like an old tree
struck by lightning. But I forged ahead, as I
always do, consumed by a ridiculous curiosity.
Fiona Perry is an Irish woman living in England and has also lived in Australia and New Zealand. Her first collection of poetry Alchemy won the silver medal in the National Poetry Book Awards, 2021. Her flash fiction Sea Change won first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Awards 2020.