WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Cover image by Tom Higgins




138 x 216mm


54 pages


£9.50 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-912876-42-6


PUB: 21/08/2020












Beda Higgins


Joint Winner

Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize 2020



“The nurse-poet has a particular point of view: investigating everyday sadness with a nursing eye and observing our brokenness with the heart of a poet. This collection of poems startles, challenges, consoles. Part recognition of human fragility, part celebration of our bloody-minded persistence, Beda Higgins can skewer your heart even as she holds it safe. Wonderful.”

Kath Mannix


"A stunning collection. I loved the poems about nursing. It is the year to explore links between poetry and medicine and Higgins does it so well. There are poems here about nurse-training,

about cancer and caring for the dying but also wonderful poems about anorexia, motherhood, even domestic violence. Beautiful.

Highly recommended.”

Carole Bromley


“Beda Higgins’ debut collection is pulsing with life. These accomplished poems of hospital wards, loss and the compensations of love are told with clear-sightedness and compassion. Partly inspired by a career in nursing, ‘Ourselves’ brings us the everyday in all its enormity, mundanity and beauty in poems that will resonate widely.”  

Anna Woodford






Can I put my geraniums out?

Or do I have to wade through appointments and

Phone messages: My call is important to them.


Can I steal my hidden cache of dormant roots

Dip fingers in dry peat, sweep cobwebs

And wonder at their twitch of life,


Or do I have to give blood, go to hospital

Wait in stuffy rooms crowded with worry

And look as if I understand what they tell me.


Can I breathe the dusky scent of childhood

My mother pruning with a silly hat on

While I hop, trying to learn how to skip.


I pack a small case and lie on a thin bed

Beginning a twelve-month life-sentence

Imprisoned in treatment and side-effects.


My dreams hibernate in a cool dark place.

I live to tip pots, stroke open veins and

Dig holes in wet soil with bare hands.





She learnt to juggle hours

To listen to ghosts, hear confessions

To pick out nits and sew with dreams.


To patch a memory knit with notions

To be a mouse creeping in cracks

To forage and eat shades of grey.


To be wide-eyed day and night

To beetle hard-shelled, to learn

To love the comfort of cold walls.


To be another face in a sea of faces

To forget what day her birthday is

To be godless but yearn to pray.





Fifteen years old and she wants to be someone.

It’s silent inside, she has nothing to say.

He drinks in her mouth and gropes her dress

For a heart that drowned when they married.


A tight placental membrane binds her;

Family honour ties her arms

And tethers her legs.

She takes short dainty steps – no cracks on show.


Hearing freedom whispered she runs –

Skin on sweaty skin, the can shut tight.

Breathing others’ breath, she prays ‘til they prize

The tin open and peel her out like a clam.


Down a dark stairwell on a line of mattresses

Marinated in vodka and dished up on stained sheets

They sniff to check she’s still fresh.

At sixteen, she knows she is no one.

Beda Higgins is a multi-published and award winning author and poet. She has two short story collections published: ‘Chameleon’ was a Read Regional Recommendation and ‘Little Crackers’, which includes a first prize winning Mslexia short story, was longlisted for the Frank O’ Connor Award. Both were

long-listed for the Edgehill Prize.


Beda is a general and psychiatric nurse, and is a recipient of two Queen’s Nursing Institute Awards.  

9781912876426 Beda Higgins 6



I was taken behind drawn curtains

To witness a strange ceremony.

‘African admission of no fixed address’

A blocked bed. He was stripped naked.


Watch and learn nurse:

Sponge with soap and water

Dry and plug the orifices, fix the teeth

Close and fasten the shroud.


I saw his dark skin iced white in freesia talc

His body rolled unknown in stiff grey paper

Knotted and tied as a cut of butcher’s meat.

Here, he was not only dead: he was lost.






Take a mindo seed from our secret place

I’ve hidden it, exactly where it always was

Behind the pantry door. Be gentle it’s delicate

Squeeze the leaves and smell the sea.

In a bite of salty breath, remember the care

Of your mother teaching you to cook

Instead of swim.

When you forget, smells can help

To remember our good moments.

Copy me again, these swollen joints;

Don’t squash the mindo, you’ll lose us

We’ve already been lost too long.

The bite should taste of the earth before sunset

Trickling evening shade warm and sleepy.

Lick your lips before dark closes on my kitchen,

When you feel ready, please eat.

Learn a new way to swim.






The shop lady knocks, she is posh with pearly lipstick

Her Botox arrow eyebrows shoot alarmingly high

Mavis likes to see that life is full of surprises.

She has thirty pence left for a last supper

And lifts her pin-cushioned puffed hand

Bruised and battered from the battle

To point at the Flake: it’s been years.

She sits and shakily unwraps her treasure

Finger over bumps and smells the small log

Carefully collecting splinters that drop.

Her bloated pumpkin face shines

Grateful for the small gifts she has left.





When I was little I was given a black dolly.

She had a blue maid’s outfit, white shiny eyes

And the packet said: with golly hair.


Cindy and Barbie sneered hard plastic, and no

Matter how I arranged and sorted the toy box

    –     Golden and thin, they wouldn’t let her be.


My first ward; all the cleaners were black.

And in every face

The truth I’d seen in her eyes, was blinking back