Ice Maiden

(Original art by Sarah Drury)

I’ve been here too long.
Sitting in this barren kingdom.
Breath exhaling, moist to crystalline,
and my lungs cascade.
Plumes of a pulmonary, lovesick swan.
Both yearning for a mate.
This colourless existence
bleaches our beauty.
The whiteness,
oh, the whiteness,
is killing me.

They say I have a frosty heart.
Icy, gliding frozen tears
like winter butter
across the surface of an artic lake.
And I taste like tender Eskimos
as I glaciate myself in igloos
and my door becomes a sheet of ice.

It’s been so long
since you held me in furnace arms,
my love.
I always dreamt of happy ever afters.
Never thought the crows of death would stalk me,
and I’m choking on black feathers.

I’ve tried, my love, I’ve tried.
Till my eyes were the glistening moon
and the sun dare not even
speak your name.
I’ve played the sorry widow.
Years floundering in the memory of us.
It was not just your death.
I died too.
The glacial landscape beckoned me.
Frozen teardrops my rendezvous,
and the ice-maiden took me
as her own.

Sarah Drury 2020

Heart of My Love

Heart of my love

I had the pink-dipped, love-tipped
heart of my love.
It quivered tenderly in my silk-gloved palm.
Like an Autumn leaf, mercilessly crushed under stiletto heels.
A porcelain breath was too strong for its fragility.

It used to pulsate within my lover’s rib-throb chest.
But the signal was fading, and mortality was quickly cascading.
There is no iPhone charger for a hearse-hemmed heart.
Only hopes and dreams,
as I drag my faith from the sacred of my sacrilege.

The angels had seen Jesus and his name was John.
As he swallowed stars and dined on cheese, with the man in the moon.
I showed them the heart and the heavens lamented.
They’d made a seat by the lord, yet the lord bowed down
to wash his life-ragged feet.

So, I ripped out the songbird
from the cherry tree.
It cast its beady eye and sang elegies with a smashed glass beak.
With resentment glinting, it was glaring at my psyche.
It was crushed in my palm and coveting the sky.

It sang of a pure, unblemished love.
Where virgins adorned the sanguine story of our hearts.
So sacred as the days when mortals were Prophets.
A gold-leafed lament, I heard the songbird sing.
As I released it from my cruel, artic-ice grip,
and it melted into the watercolour sunrise.

I had the pink-dipped, love-tipped
heart of my love.
Resting in swathes of my gossamer emotions.
Never had anything so delicate graced my gypsy, tealeaf palms.
But my crystal ball was clouded,
like the blatant truth of my fairytale eyes.

The heart slipped carelessly from my grasp.
Lilting through fingertips and sailing through oceans of sorrow.
I picked it up wistfully, slipped it in my pocket.
Hoping to mend it with silk stitches,
embroider a tapestry with a skein of hope.

And give you the gift of life
and hush the scorning songbird and his wicked songs
bleating I was a widow, not a faith hungry wife.
But I emptied my ears and knelt in prayer,
and clipped my turbulent tongue.

I had the pink-dipped, love-tipped
heart of my love.
I caressed its tender, brutal wounds.
I burnished it with solid gold and told it soulful tales of old.
He whispered he didn’t need it
anymore.

Stigmata.

Spoken word poem. Because biology shouldn’t be shameful!

I was only a slip of a girl.
With my hand sewn, bargain basement, maroon skirt.
My eyes were flashing bright
like pound shop, hazel fairylights,
and the next generation fishwive wannabees,
knew how to dish the dirt.
I was dicing with crimson and scarlet,
and hues of red were my dirty sins.
I drank the tea and spat out blood.
The teacup cracked with the weight
of the shameful, tainted leaves within.

It was art that day.
Male teacher, testosterone on display.
He didn’t know that aunty Rosie had come out to play.
Hand sewn, bargain basement, maroon skirt.
Dreams that often kissed the muck on the dirt.
It hung like a hungry lion around
my skeletal body.
Waiting for aunt Rosie to surrender and say she was sorry.
To show her heartless white flag.
Back in the days when girls were ‘on the rag’.
And fearing that the boys would
call me a dirty slag.
I played it steady.

Art class
and a thousand puberty heartbeats thumping en masse.
I painfully birthed every second and minute that passed.
My flesh were stigmata and my clothes were a looking glass.
I woke up in a coma that only screams pass.
My uterus had cried in scarlet tears.
Flowing from stigmata in my eyes and ears.
Childhood was laughing at my womanhood years,
and I hopelessly drowned in a womb full of fears.
I froze like a cadaver in a cryogenics lab
Ice danced in the heat of my sub Celsius stance
and I felt with my shame for a martyr to stab.

And all the jeering eyes.
Do I burnish them with the scarlet surprise?
Let them touch my stigmata flesh with their cutlass tongues.
I didn’t want to be a victim,
but blood washed skirts were so much heartless fun.
I waited for the sun to phone the moon.
And I let the sky paint dusky colours over cerulean shades of blue.
They’d been sitting there like vampires,
and there I was, a gift of a victim,
and they hadn’t had a clue.

I got home that day.
I wandered through crimson pockets of shame
and feelings that at that age had had no name.
And the curse of puberty, and the feeling I have to blame
my body.
And stigmata weren’t for me a blessing.
And it’s not that I’m regretting being a woman.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of being a woman.
It’s not that I hate red…

Sarah Drury.

Two Wonky Wheels

I grew up on a council estate in a deprived area. We didn’t have much, but we were happy, and we made the best of what we had. I had a wonky old bike which I thought was the business! It inspired me to write this spoken word poem.

Two Wonky Wheels

Two wonky wheels,
clattering over dirty pavements.
Muck covered, muck covered.
Grimy hands,
grimy knees,
grimy faces,
market clothes,
kids in droves,
snotty nose,
Ken Loach prose,
playing on the council close
with their car boot sale toys.

Two wonky wheels.
Buckled like my affluence as a kid.
Fags in the gutter, fags in the gutter.
But I didn’t give a shit.
What you don’t know,
isn’t in the conscious show.
We weren’t fancy.
But the wheels kept turning,
the kids kept learning,
the loans kept sharking,
and I wasn’t yearning,
for a life I didn’t know.

Two wonky wheels,
and no iPads, no iPads;
no posing lads
on Instagram.
No girls with fancy iPhones,
no parents taking extortionate loans
for their little darlings’ Xmas.
No Facebook,
no Instagram,
no Twitter,
no Tik Tok;
no screen time ending
when the clock
said two hours up,
now knock it off,
or I’ll ban it.

Two wonky wheels,
and we fought over marbles;
Action man, Action man;
Kiss chase AND –
the odd fumble behind the
derelict land
on the building site.
Giz a fag,
don’t tell yer ma,
have a polo
you nicked from the spa;
you came in when the streetlights
danced with the stars
and you travelled by foot
and not by car,
for your parents weren’t
minted.

Two wonky wheels,
two tired legs.
Oily ankles, oily ankles;
Didn’t matter to me
that my street was the dregs
of my council estate.
Cos we were content.
All the comics I lent,
all the cops who were bent,
all the errands I was sent
for my parents;
twenty Benson and Hedges
and a bottle of pop
to keep the kids happy.

And we WERE happy.

Sarah Drury

Care in the Community

In 1986, the UK started the countrywide closure of the mental asylums, which housed over 100,000 patients, who were moved into the community. It was a noble act but very difficult for many of the former patients, who had to live amidst prejudice and ridicule. They were often treated with fear and suspicion by others, and ostracised from the rest of society. My great grandma was one of these people, and she found it very hard to leave as she had become institutionalised. This poem is looking through her eyes…

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Lofty, archaic ceilings,
echoing cries
of institutionalise.
Faceless Freud-styled fodder,
clothed in layers of regulation.

Pluck out my eyes so
I no longer see
the haunting corpse
of a ghost of a spectre
of a prison.
That crushed me
in fists of banal sterility.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
They kicked us onto streets.
Into people,
into mocking,
into laughter,
into ridicule,
loonies, nutters, crazies.
And we don’t know where we live anymore,
us half-breeds.
Walking around in polyester frocks,
yet floating in visions of hospital smocks
and medication time.

Care in the community,
they call it.
Well, it’s shit.
Cos the community don’t care,
and us crazies don’t care,
and we try to get by,
and the people stare,
and they call us freaks
and they whittle away
at our fragile egos,
crushed, broken and weak.
Like discarded eggshells
not Faberge.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Freedom should taste like haute cuisine.
But when you’ve learned to live
within a bubble of lithium, valium, Ativan,
something’s got to give.
Imperfection is perfection
in a kingdom where the crazy rule.
But step beyond the lock and key,
to the world where
the weak and troubled fall,

and people cannot help
their ignorance.
For dig to the bottom of
their cruel-school bones,
as you learn to dance
to the ridicule
and you put your face on the joker
of every card you’re dealt.
For the laughs are at you
not with you;
Cheap and how the hyenas choke on
their resonant, acid tongues.

But I live in this half-way world;
my legacy is a white walled asylum
and I hear that my penance
thrives on my fear.
Hail Mary,
hear my prayer.

They shut down all the asylums,
dint they.
The lies they told
with their penny pinching lips.
They told us it was progress.
And they told us it
was freedom.
And I sit here in my prison.
Of fear.

Sarah Drury