(still here, but) and Other Poems by M Louise

M Louise graduated from Bath Spa University in 2016 with a Creative Writing BA and has since been writing poetry pamphlets and YA novels in her spare time, whilst living in the historical town of Bath, England. Previously published work can be found in Shelia-Na-Gig (Volume 1.3, Spring 2017).


we couldn’t have the softness,
no forts built of pillows
only those made out of grout
and stones
we built with small hands
in the quiet aftermath

we couldn’t have the simplicity,
evenings in the park
pressing flowers into noses,
instead sinning in the daylight
in vain attempt to control the breaking

we couldn’t have the moment,
we couldn’t have the old days,
we couldn’t have the remember when it was easy,
no free passes from the juries,
the drum of the hammer still haunts us,

we couldn’t have risen

(still here, but)

the ocean has been calling me all this time;
I’m no longer sure if there are parts of me
the world hasn’t touched– stained

return me to dust

before it’s too late

recurring waves

a dampness lives beneath my skin,
where once a heel broken floor board
let a flood inside, trickled then surged,
right to the brim of my throat. my body
was never mine, but water that had taken
my shape. riptiding trauma unable to surface.
still now, it returns in patches, declares
my shell as unfit for living in, reminds me
that years ago I let another pour in their
salted sins. the darkness appears in corners,
spreads quickly and fights back at any attempt
to remove it. you can’t treat surface stains
without treating the cause. the cause was
never a choice, never mine, never my body

the graveyard at the bottom of the hill

we used to play in graveyards,
young and ignorant to respect
vines withered around necks,
how to be abandoned in death,
(sweeter than being abandoned in life)
descendents outlived by their own
carved words in stone —
we’d read scriptures and argue who
was richer down there in the same
dirt. sometimes we’d play
hide and seek behind the church,
to be so naive to the hurt,
how we too will share this earth,
how we will be broken much worse in living
than when our bones are shattering.
we’d run along paths, through gates,
pretending we weren’t scared of trees
swaying in the sapphiring evening,
wondering if we’d be haunted by ghosts,
— how right and wrong we were —
grown and taunted by the pieces inside
that died. we’d make mud cakes out of clay,
we used to play in our own graves.

stinging nettle dreams

found you between the mundane and 2pm,
the lemonade after laced, syrup dreams,
awoken to the possibility of possibilities
beyond my honeycomb home, of sweetness
from trees, of stinging nettles on skin,
tingling spines, burning thighs, hot touches.
the naivety of normality crept in like low tide
in the stark of the night, when only dreamers
are awake, when now I sleep swaddled tight
dreaming of being awake with the salt water
nipping like a hummingbird at my knees,
of running in, 2am, bitter and defeated,
swallowing the ache, numbing the day,
to resurface and feel it all, it all, it all
heavy and free, free and wild, wild and
not a bee but the wind

wake empty

when I close my eyes I stir between the sharpness of long forgotten lovers,
turmoiled between what was and what never became, all of it angled
like a fenced off mountain rock face. don’t pass, you’ll fall to your death.
and that’s what it feels like I’m running from between the sheets,
maybe that’s why he wakes up at four am burning with the friction
of them embering beneath the bed slats. dream of possibilities missed,
their lips- palms stroking the steering wheel as they swerve lanes,
overtake the complacent, backs pressed into seats, exhilarating
want of danger, of ink on skin, their shoulders, wake guilty for craving
them, wake empty for leaving them in the corners of my subconscious,
where the possibilities multiply daily, where in reality they become divided,
forbidden, hide them under eyelids, hope when he looks in your eyes
he doesn’t see them in your irises, miss the adrenaline of not knowing
what’s next, where’s next, who would I have been, if I’d met them
first, twirled around continents without looking back, travelled solo,
travelled cramped with a not so long ago stranger on a single mattress
strapped to the floor of a hollowed out van, washed the day from skin
in riverbeds, slept above the clouds on wet grass, hands in clay and hair,
left conventionality at the doorstep of my last home for the next tenant
to step into, called the world my home, called children who weren’t
my own my own, loved more than one person at once, shaved all my hair off,
who would I have been had I not been shaped small, had I not forgotten
to throw my arms out wide and demand my space from the universe,
pulled the stars into my pockets, not felt shame for standing on hill tops,
claimed the wind as momentum to keep moving, keep moving, roots are for
the slow growing, who would I have been had I not stopped dreaming

apple pie

it’s taken me this long to feel tranquil,
spent childhood pushed small
and twenties told to be loud,
made to be vulnerable and steel
in the mould of the night,
when broken men
would take their shatterings
and stuff them into pyjama pockets,
not caring how it cut me,
only relieved to be free,

it’s taken me this long to find softness,
to let others see dried blood on legs,
hard to love,
made to be in wellington boots
that fit clumsily at thighs,
boys tried, lined up with socks in fists,
but nothing ever fit in the gaps
between toes and the comfort of them
being so close

it’s taken me this long to find someone
who makes it all easy,
started patiently,
slept beside me under furniture,
locked the doors before sunset,
held me when I asked
took a pillow to the floor when I couldn’t
stand the warmth of breath on neck,
easy like butter on toast,
easy like honey spooned to mouth,
like I was made to be this
for this,

From the Editor:

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32 pages, published 1/15/2022

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80 pages, published 10/15/2020

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