Rachel Cunniffe


I am bare ankled about to tread
on to a magician's box
for a ritual sawing in two.

It will be an easy birth,
no gestation, no placenta
just a conjurer's sleight of hand.

A simple removal of torso and stomach,
like an animal doctor lifting
wombs of sterile sows.

The child will be leathery, and insecure
as a rhinoceros
wrapped in tissue paper.

Behind us a vinyl smooth landscape
reflects islands beyond the horizon,
the sky is blotted ink disclosed colours.

Bricks and ornate plasterwork crumble.
I put my faith in fairies,
sea shells and Russian dolls.

Safe in this giant keyhole
without regrets or expectations
together we are floating.

This baby must perform new balancing tricks,
the shadow of his legs become a crucifix.

Russian doll

there is a face –
direct eye contact
under lacquered lashes

and inside
the large iris
colours disclose themselves
ink on blotting paper, a choice of moods

and inside
there are pupils
which shrink and enlarge with light
their sole purpose, to absorb

and inside
are snapshots of today
return in dreams, scrambled
another body’s salt and pepper history

and inside
are hide away thoughts
the tight muscles of the unsaid

Rachel Cunniffe is based in the North East of England and has written poetry since a teenager. She has an MA in Writing Studies gained in 1995 from Edgehill University College. Real jobs stifled her creativity for 16 years, but she has recently been able to partially retire and spend more time writing again. She has been a member of several creative writing groups, one of which has been in existence since 1991. She read regularly at the — now sadly no more — September StAnza Poetry Weekend in Callendar for about 9 years.
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