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Zoe Mitchell is a widely-published poet whose work has been featured in many magazines including The Rialto, The London Magazine and The Moth.
She graduated from the University of Chichester with an MA in Creative Writing and was awarded a Distinction and the Kate Betts Memorial Prize.
She is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, examining witches in women’s poetry.
Hag was a joint winner of the Indigo-First Collection competition.
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
The poems in Hag address the ongoing search
for magic in the modern world. Using ancient history
and mythology as well as the inspiration provided
by a wild landscape, the poems consider how to
live and endure in an increasingly complex and challenging world. From uncertain heroes and heartbroken heroines to vengeful and lovelorn goddesses,
Hag considers the human cost of history and how each individual must carry the weight of their own experience.
Wicked or wise, at my root
is nothing but joy
but no one wants you to know that.
There’s no profit in me.
I could only beg for the things
I’m meant to want
but no one can make me want them.
I feel so old and not from the sorrow
on my shoulders:
it is the silence behind.
Strange new gods are being born
and not from the mess I make
or the strange scents
that emanate from my quarters.
Through the smoke
and my eyes’ smeared windows
I see everything
and mutter as I pull who-knows-what
from my hair,
smiling my crooked smile.
I am kept at a distance
to stop my song reaching your ears.
Wake up from your dream and run.
The future may be crouched, waiting
to eat out your heart
but it must catch you first.
Sing, red-hearted women! Circle the black
cauldron while curses fill the moon, seduce
the sun; let it rest sweating in your sheets.
Bind the magic with waterfall tresses,
cast a spell with herbs to take out the fat –
all that’s messy can be turned to beauty.
And remember: to bleed is not to die.
You burst through from blood and must live
in it. Dance now with your coming daughters.
In my home, a pane of glass
has been lain at a deliberate
diagonal in the gable-end wall.
It looks crooked, but nestled
in that narrow space, this glazed
mystery admits illumination.
The skylight airs out our house,
slotted with care into a place
with no other use than darkness.
So say the architects and yet,
there is another explanation
for what some call a witch window.
In another time, they say, when
a woman told a man she could fly,
he would believe her.
Everything He Left Behind
I am queen of every dark corridor
he ran through. I walk my feet on the streets
he paved, cloak myself in words he never
should have said, live here in his edifice.
Turn back the stars. Unfasten all vengeance
and march it like an elephant across
impossible Alps. Trample his labours
in the black mud of all my kiss-soured curses.
I spit fire on every shred of his work.
Rest my bruise of a body in the flames
until all the things he never meant to do
drift on saffron wings towards a heaven.
It was a beautiful day –
clear as the cold river that admitted my body,
a whisper of ripples and sunlight soft
as the hush of the crowd that had bound me.
In that moment, I wished
to be smooth and flat like a pebble.
I could have skipped over the surface
and landed on the far, damp bank
but the water knew I was a woman
from the round swell of my hips,
the curve of my breasts,
my whole body pregnant as a full moon.
My lacustrine sisters and I all sank
with our eyes open –
the riverbed is not a place of rest.
Women made water gather
from dark ponds and pell-holes and grimmers;
we loom in rock pools,
jabble a torrent of curses.
Clouds caper in the sky and we call them
our unborn children.
A glut of rain weeps
with our polluted heirs like a vengeance.
Then, out of the blue, an after drop –
a beautiful new day.
Looking into this bottomless black reflection,
I glimpse the face of my father; unmistakeable
as death and yet etched with kindness.
Something in my eyes betrays me, it is
the expectation of my mother, disappointed
in that quiet way that deafens the senses.
I catch the unthinking cruelty of one sister,
the sharp-edged sparkling hope of another
and can’t distinguish past from future.
Something else is held in this mirror.
There, half in shadow, I see the daughter
I’ll never have, playing with a lost son.
The Scarlet Mark
Though I may close my carmine lashes
to forget, you will keep reminding me
that I was born aflame and lean to burning.
You see cherries blossoming sour
between my legs as I rewrite beauty
with these dissembling ruby ropes.
Crimson fingers coil around my throat,
blood-raw ribbons weave down the white
skin of my back and never fade.
INDIGO-FIRST COLLECTION COMPETITION 2018