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the stigmata of my wedding ring has faded now

the band of flesh pressed by its golden band

grows smooth and naked now


                 from; HE AND SHE, YOU AND ME by Hannah Stone



















1 – BIOGRAPHY:  Hannah Stone


Hannah Stone has been writing poetry since the age of seven and has read it avidly since as long as she can remember. She is particularly inspired by Celtic poets and the Celtic landscape, by the English metaphysical poets and by Billy Collins, by relationships with God, people and the world around. She studied English Literature and Language at London University 1977-1980 and was awarded a 2.1 honours degree. Aged 15 she was a winner in the Daily Mirror Children’s Literary Competition, for ‘Sonnet to Edward Burne-Jones’, published in Children as Writers 4, Heinemann, London,1977, at 20 won the Ivy-Compton Burnett Prize, Royal Holloway College, University of London, for a collection of 40 poems written up to age 18. After a fallow period she recommenced writing and is due to start studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University October 2013. Since 2012, she has performed at Open Mics for Leeds ‘Night Vision’ and other groups at the Sandbar, Horsforth, at longer slots for Heart, Headingley and EPIC in Roundhay. Several poems have been published by local journals and ‘Syntax’ is due to be published in the November 2013 edition of ‘Matathan’ Magazine on Death and the Afterlife. in her 'other' life she holds a variety of academic posts for three different universities. See website at HannahStone14@gmx.co.uk.

Hannah Stone has established Wordspace, an Imprint for Leeds Trinity University, and her first collection of poetry, 'Perfect Timing', is the inaugural volume in the Imprint, available via Amazon and as Kindle download from 7 March 2014









The stigmata of my wedding ring has faded now

the band of flesh pressed by its golden band

grows smooth and naked now


My old self sloughed

this skin has never known his touch

he whose flesh was one with mine becomes

the other, lives in alien skin, with some new flesh


dead without burial

gone without farewell


and now you touch me, you

or is it tu?

since intimate is what we are, skin deep

(I dare not share what grows beneath)


Skin deep, half flayed

Your touch on me grows gentle scars






Wet Bloomsbury evenings now

will always smell of you


loose-limbed and buoyant, your stride

yielding to mine, we dodge the puddles.

The beard and scarf are new, but underneath

is quintessential you, quick-tongued, alert

to nuances familiar and fresh.


Damp but laughing, we thread along

a labyrinth of darkened rooms to find

such warmth, such stillness as we lie

pillowed on papers and coats and finally

your spent softness quietly curls on my thigh.


Above our heads, an impotent winking eye

insists there is a message to retrieve.





Being merely human, it isn’t the empty nest

that ruffles my bosom, but

the denuded fridge.


For two decades I nourished you,

first the blind ignorance of a dividing cell

that sought to split my body


then month after month of your voracious mouth

sucking my goodness, the downy sphere

of your butting head

cradled like a third breast

against my eager heart.


Now, hungry for knowledge

which I can neither give nor share,

you feed yourself mysteriously on books

and screens

and caffeine shots,


a lean Columbus returning with new fruits

your discourse reshaped

with clever acronyms


sustained by continents of discovery

and expensive taste in biscuits.


Last night, as I drifted towards sleep

I heard your lovely footfall, descending

through the darkened house,


the squeal of the fridge door

and the unmuffled clatter of cutlery.





Why you here reading accused an unsummoned philosopher

clad in nihilistic black.

Dark, too, was his dogma – we’ll all heading for that drip

at the end of your life, they plug you in

that drip

salt and water cos we came out of the ocean

we need the water, he proclaims, warming to his theme, leaning

as if into the wind.


Gusts of breakfast cider belch into my face.


We came craving the sugar of the land

Not just the salt and water, so why

You reading, what’s your script

All the money’s in videos now, you wasting

Your time, he shouts

Making it sound like I’ve filched minutes –

Hours even – from the store of his

Coffee-spooned day.


Why you bother, he finishes

And the small craft in his angry mind

Tacks off as he lurches

Into the unresponsive ocean of Russell Square

And still I wait for the library to open,

The harbour towards which I pilot

My flimsy bobbing vessel, reaching up

To impale myself on the cannula

Of the printed page,

The slow drip-feed of other people’s knowledge

Filling my veins for a shift or two,

A quick fix, a sugar high, before oblivion.






So it’s next stop Oxford but he’s pissed because his

Fucking expensive headphones are all crapped up

All those paper-rounds for nothing, and can he have

A loan of mine to listen to an episode of South Park?

(digging crossly at a muchpicked spot).


I pass them over, but want to warn him

There’ll be a homeopathic residue of the Dichteliebe

Or maybe a Bach cantata 

Which might interfere with reception.






If a fifty three year old woman

who lives halfway up a hill

leaves her house at 9a.m.

to teach a 10.30 class,

and walks three miles

(through four inches of fresh snow)

and half a mile on two inches of slush 

(which contains 15% compacted ice)


and stops,


to listen to birdsong,


how many calories does she burn

and what colour is the sky?


You should show your workings out.





On your seventieth birthday you jived groin to groin

with your man, your smile as radiant as your shoes,

wick as a flame in your white suit, dodging

the potted herbs, the parked cars in the lane beyond the yard.


The sun shone.


At my fiftieth, my invitation went unanswered, your phone

rang and rang. Time passed for us both.


Today, passing the place where the dancing and music spilled

from the house like a glass overflowing

I glanced unbidden through the window.

Where were your books? And surely

those florid curtains can’t be yours?


I hope you’re still dancing, Chrissie,

one small pale hand clasping

the firm ebony fingers of your lover,

or that the candle was snuffed out,


not that your flame is guttering

in an airless sterile room, shrouded

 in crimplene, with Velcro slipons

instead of dancing shoes.






On the way to somewhere else, I stopped,

mud under my feet, a large man

with a flat rake – ‘There are ewes

with young lambs’ says the notice

‘in the burial ground area.

Please ensure all gates are closed.’


But there’s no bleating today, only

the hissing of passing cars on the A65,

and perhaps the echo of your new brother’s laughter,

(gift of God, announcer of new life).


Somewhere here, little Anna,

your small frame was buried, and I saw

your mother’s smooth face age ten years

in as many months –

though I only ever saw your image

mirrored in her tenderness, before

you stopped here

on the way to somewhere else.





He’d dubbin his boots

and shrug into an anorak

shouldering the biggest pack

and we’d scramble behind

as he forged streams, skidded on screes

and clambered over walls

where my hesitation cost me

a small scar inside my left knee.


You, on the other hand,

are confused by shoes.

As I kneel to slot your heel

 into the soft leather,

you tentatively touch my hand.

As for laces, who can understand

their meanderings? Your overcoat conspires

to evade your arms and in place of a rucsac

you select a trusted stick

for our circuit round the park. 


Soon, I think, you will shuffle to a halt.

You and he will be united

in crumbling ash, which we’ll hoist

on our backs, a light load to carry

to the top of the mountain.






Mindfuck you call it – technically,

cognitive dissonance. First, the place,

a cottage garden hugging the moorland path,

where he shudders as he beats the bounds,

spinning his fantail like a disco-ball,

wafting with shapely feathers an indifferent peahen,

his urgent hoarseness the solo

to a backing track of curlews and larks.

                She’s unimpressed – seen it before –

but look again – no turquoise eye

is shimmering on a bronzed plume.

Perhaps the Pennine rain has bled him dry

for every feather’s innocent of tint,

and like the sky’s broad colourchart of greys

so he displays each variant of white,

of clouds, of cottongrass, of milk,

spume rising from the stream

or mist plunging down from the hillside.

                He’s trembling, striving to keep it up:

still he gyrates, still she ignores

his desperate pride, the hunger

for her plump, ordinary brownness.




3 - Afterword

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