Poetry: Katherine Leyton 2


We live in my lungs.
You smoke. I don’t.
You set up an armchair in the corner,

bring your books and newspapers, lean back,
read and exclaim facts, something about the fall
of empires and the decline of women.

On the back of one of your magazines
a girl poses in a dress, straps
slipping down her shoulders,

something moving under her skin
as if it knew the place, something
I recognise like I recognise

the fire in my belly, burning
everything into threads of light,
sending smoke up through my eyes and mouth.

There is always another side to history.
In the factories where dress threads come together
the women hum to drown their hunger.

Art is a looking-glass.

I see myself in a painting, the one
in which the heroine’s breasts are like bruised apples
and a shadow watches from the window.

When the girl in the photograph – or
the one in the painting, for that matter –
fucks, there is a heat that does not stop.

Forget flowers. Imagine instead
a throw of black, blue, green and gold,
each string unravelling.

What you meant – when you mentioned
the decline of women – was
that empires nearing

the brink of collapse
make stars out of women’s eyes,
turn their bodies into metaphor.



Previously featured in Edinburgh Review 134


    Read some recent snippets of the Review online

    Two poems from Roddy Lumsden: Women in Paintings and Tact

    Poetry from JL Williams: Pool Hall School and Time Breaks the Heart

    Frances Leviston's article questions the recent re-reading of the work of Elizabeth Bishop. Spectacle and Speculation

    David Wheatley examines the political poem today in his article, Between ‘Helpless Right’ and ‘Forced Pow’r’

    Share a bus journey in Graham Fulton's poem Blue Bag

    Our editor expounds on poetry, place and the Review itself:
    Alan Gillis: The State of the Review

  • Edinburgh Review on Twitter

  • Find us on Facebook

  • Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: