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Soulcraft

 

It’s true: there is a light at the centre of my body.

If I could, I would lift aside a curtain of this flesh

and demonstrate, but for now it is my private neon.

It is closest to the air at certain moments,

like when buttercups repair a morning’s jagged edge.

Other times, a flock of days descends

and my soul flickers, goes to ground.

Without light, I’m all membrane; each part

becomes a gate. I pour across each margin

and nothing has enough hands to catch me,

my teeth knocking so fast I daren’t hold any piece

of myself near in case I start a banquet.

I’m only eased by accident. On the drenched path,

I pick up snails and transport them to safer earth

then feel a stirring. I watch as rain streams

from lopped-back elms, my face teeming with water

and―hello stranger―my soul glides to my surface

like it, too, belongs there; like a bright fish rising to feed.

 

 

© John McCullough

Picture 11937589, photograph by Roger Mayne, 1964, image copyright Mary Evans / Roger Mayne

 

 

John McCullough lives in Brighton and Hove. His first collection of poems, The Frost Fairs, won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012 and was a Book of the Year for The Independent as well as a summer read in The Observer. His second, Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins, 2016), was named one of The Guardian‘s Best Books for Summer and was shortlisted for the Ledbury-Forte prize. His new collection, Reckless Paper Birds, explores vulnerability and the human body. It has been shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award.