Monday, 12 January 2015

A poem by Susie Campbell


            (for Mary Anning,  fossil hunter, 1799-1847)

My brother digs up
the dragon's skull.
It looks at me with flinty promise -
Find me under the blue cliff.
I kiss its gnarly head, dig
for its stony soul.
Pa's not long dead
but I turn over his teeth
and bones
beneath my apron
of bleached leather.

I was named for a ghost,
her winding sheet my christening robe.
Grew up with snake-stones,
Devil's fingers,
taught by ribs of black marl
to stiffen my spine.
When lightning struck,
my neighbours
in their pliant flesh -
I stood clear as quartz.
My body is agate
and my heart resin.

They throw rocks at me,
as the tide shrinks
from God's stone meadow.
I clad myself in bruises,
grow dragon claws.
It takes five men and a horse
to lift me from the beach. As I rise
I tear holes
through their tales of creation.
Me. That little whore
with a pebble in her breast
a box of sharp tools
and no hope of heaven.

Wyvern first appeared in 2014 in THE BITTERS, Susie Campbell's first pamphlet published by Dancing Girl Press in its series of chapbooks.

Susie Campbell ( has just completed an MSt in Creative Writing at Oxford University where she was the inaugural winner of the F.H.Pasby prize. Her poems have appeared in Domestic Cherry, Shearsman, Envoi and a number of other journals.