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The water has no time for the debris between our toes,
coating our skin and clinging to us for new life.
It sweeps out in a careless swipe, and we are clean.


                 from Ochre by Amy E. Archer 







an unnamed colour




the colour I cannot be




whatever colour you are, I am also



Amy E Archer


Amy Archer-Williams is a young writer looking to build a career. She has written and performed in two short plays at Doncaster Little Theatre as well as taking part in an Open Mic Night at Cast Theatre, and is currently working on her first novel. She enjoys reading, baking and spending time with her dog Sherlock. 







We arrive to a canvas painted with the story of others
It is pockmarked in stretches by strangersí lives
washed in and poured out on alien tides.

Their timelines stutter and smear under our feet
as our heels dip into the spaces they have left
their wonders and woes imprinted in the sand.

The water has no time for the debris between our toes,
coating our skin and clinging to us for new life.
It sweeps out in a careless swipe, and we are clean.

There is no room for baggage.

We walk until the ground stops sucking us down
and begins to propel us forward instead,
our footprints marking new beginnings on naked land.

In our little space we sit down under the sun
To build our own castles
and wait for our moat to fill.



It is not there in the drowsiness of heavy lids
weighed down by centuries of tradition
and the smoky wisp of incense on lashes.
As one we sit and we stand and we kneel
shape with our mouths the words of ancient men
we are told to sing
to believe.

In the name of the father, the son
and the holy spirit;
but that dad is a deadbeat and the son
does not come home for Christmas.
There is nothing holy in this spirit
and the name tastes like a bland white disc
bitter and lingering on the tongue.

No, there is nothing for me in this
I cannot find my peace and love here.  
I could sing like a bird every hymn in the book
tilt my head to the sky and push prayers past my teeth
and still there would be nothing;
no guiding light nor nudge in the right direction.
But I can find my own.

I can reach into nothing and grasp a fatherís hand
entwine my fingers with his and hold on tight;
slit my breast open with a rough-edged fingernail
and slot my son into the cavity inside my chest.
I can cup my holy spirit gently between my palms
bring him to my mouth and breathe in
until my vocal chords vibrate with his voice.

Can you lend me a little piece of your souls?
Jut a fragment will do.
I have enough of myself and all I need
is the lightest touch of my three
one at each shoulder and one before me
to strengthen my nerve and steady my heart
and drive me on.



The battle approaches with the rhythmic stamp of a thousand feet.
Your cloistered toes clench against the tremors in their heavy-duty boots,
unclench with the moment of indecision that strikes, swift and sure as a blade.

It does not have to be your moment, here on this hill that quakes
with your own ragged nerves, your clattering heart.
You can roar out your retreat and step back, step back, keep going.

You could find a new hill where these soldiers will not find you
set up your camp and build up your home, but you know
that you will always be watching the horizon.

Wherever you stand, the ground beneath you hides a millennia of secrets.
Skeleton scribes etch the loss of their battles into the earth
reach up towards you and crook their slim white fingers in beckoning.



I bite down and taste pith.
You are disappointing
a mouthful of string
no substance.
I expected something.

I expected slick sapid sweet
or suddenly sour.
I expected something
I could recognise as you
an individual.

I will remember only
that the other fruit was interesting.
I will not remember you
the lonely faded orange
at the bottom of the fruit bowl.



Your thought for me sours my blood,
gives green hue to my sickened flesh.
I have done you wrong.
But even now
as I hold in my hands the weight of your kindness
your generous spirit made solid
I cannot find the breath to expel this bitterness.
I inhale my own angry, sullen resentment
and breathe it out as cruelty to you.



A sea of slate stretches forth from this point
grey as the skies and the soot on the road
on the smudged and slackened cheeks
of a hundred miners or more.
In the weak morning light they meander  
to the man-made maw in the earth
a work force uniformed by coughing
that starts deep in the pits
of the earth and their bellies
oozes up to their blackened straining lungs.

The child watches from her vantage point
from underneath a grey slate roof of her own.
Her small pale face is a flash of colour
in a colourless landscape
and her young warm breath fogs the window,
mists the miners from her view.
She wonders if there is anything more out there
or if this is her eternity: 
a pit village lost in time
dancing to the tune of the minersí march.



This one is for you.
You and your emotions,
your towering, violent beasts;
some silent, some screaming, all savage.

This one is for the rage.
There is fury in your blood
and wild vicious heat in your heart,

a warriorís battle cry resonating deep
from the chambers of your chest.
A flint a spark a blaze and you are aflame;

but cool, abruptly.
The underbelly of temper is a quiet, tired thing
and the sudden harsh sting of reality is balm
to the whiplash of a mercurial soul.

This one is for the love,
and all that comes with it.
Here, you stand arms open wide
for the good and bad rushing in on the tide;
wordless joys and unspeakable horrors
crashing into you as one.

You breathe through it,
steady your fighter-lover heart.
Through it all you remain standing,
shaken but never felled.



Can you just try to -
It is a simple enough request.
I make a list in my head
of the things I can do
could do, differently.
It would be easier, I think
for me
if I make these changes.

I could hunch my shoulders
narrow them with knotted arms
bend my knees to be shorter
or strain my toes for more height.
I could contort myself to fit
hold my breath in that moment
between inhale and exhale
but I do not think it will be enough. 

Why canít you just -
Why canít I just?
I do not know
but I know
that my skin chafes
and friction burns
and my aching spine
is not as malleable as yours.



We laugh with the mouths of children
as we curl our tongues around grown up words
that crackle and pop like sherbet across our taste buds.
At the back of our throats we find giddiness
ten and more years old, fizzing between us.
We thought we had swallowed it down
sent it plummeting into our gullets
to be digested and dealt with and let alone,
this juvenile joy from a time now gone.
How surprising it is to find it still here
embedded in our own soft flesh.
We taste childish joy, spit teenage hilarity
roll faded jokes and sepia memories
between our older, wiser teeth
until they become fresh again
born anew from our adult mouths. 



You speak, and it is not your voice I hear.
The words on that alien tongue are yours
but you hum through a strangerís vocal chords
an imposter in your own pair of lungs.
You sift through the silt at the back of your throat
and find the lost years and primal fears
of the half-formed human you have become
snarled up in the matted tangle of your larynx.
You choke on it Ė the sludge of you
dredged up, clogged up, dragged up.
The things you have not said
catch on your tonsils
stick to the roof of your mouth
and the things you have said but not meant
leave your mouth in your strangerís voice
your guileless regurgitation of another.




3 - Afterword

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We are looking for other poets to feature in this series, and are open to submissions.  Please send one poem and a short bio to - info@poetrykit.org

Thank you for taking the time to read Caught in the Net.