Rachel Bower – Five Poems


We call them lines of desire:
bald patches of grass, blades of glass
soil packed and buffed to a sheen.
Our fingers glow with white rings:
ridges of wax, rubbed metal on bone
thin bands of crystal glaze.
The land shines with ginger again.


The pool on the mound
bubbles from a sacred spring
warmed by morning sun
but cool enough still
to splash my feet to flowers.


Sugar Beet

Jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, tickle, tickle, tickle, tickle,
little sack of sugar I could eat you up
” Woody Guthrie

Pretending to eat cake
I sit you on the table just to look in your eyes
rub my nose with your nose kiss your toes
sticky hands on my lips and chin and we are lost
in a cloud of sweet flour.
In a cloud of sweet flour
we are lost, sticky hands on my lips and chin and
kiss your toes, rub my nose with your nose
just to look in your eyes, I sit you on the table
pretending to eat cake.


Moon Milk

Why is your tummy so wrinkly?

Because I grew you in there, and your sister –
a moonbeam and a chestnut.

A boy of warm wood and autumn sunshine
and a girl of moon milk and light.


Light Work

I licked blackberry blood from my fingers
as he told me many hands make life work Mum

that’s what I told them Mum and it worked
he beamed, it worked, I said what you said

and they let me join in. I put the berries down.
Many hands make life work? Oh yes, I replied

and we smiled our eyes and we drank our milk
and I left proud stains on his arms.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Given the long history of philosophical debate on the nature of beauty, I can’t pretend to provide a definitive statement. But for me, the possibility of beauty is often raised in small interactions between people – between neighbours, strangers, relatives – through intimacy, kindness, connection. The possibility of beauty is also raised when we face something far bigger than ourselves – the sea, the moors, sparks of life, death. It is also to do with composition or form, and accumulation and echoes often create beauty. Beauty can be found in a slant of light, the surprise of Eucalyptus, an unasked-for cup of tea, a dark peak on a wild day. That is as far as I can get for now!


Rachel Bower is a poet and Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. Her pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published with Valley Press in the UK in April 2018.  She currently co-edits an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, out with Valley Press in November 2017. Her academic book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan. She publishes and performs her poetry widely, and is the founder of Verse Matters, a feminist arts collective in Sheffield, UK. She co-edited an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters (November 2017). Her academic book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2017.  More at: https://rachelbowerwrites.wordpress.com