by Judy Brown
When I moved to the city that no longer exists
it was September. The air was brown fur
growing thick round the candy cane buildings
that poked through cloud and were lost. I could
breathe, I could talk, but my bones grew longer
and rang when sheet lightning flashed its show
over the mainland. I ate without using knives
or forks – not to be feral, but to slow myself down.
Under the fridge lived one single cockroach
I saw when I ran to the kitchen at midnight for ice.
It was mannerly, seemed not to breed. It knew me.
But I lost myself in the mirrors that covered
one wall of the lounge. I wanted to multiply,
fatten into a crowd. When alone I spoke
of myself as ‘we’. The local clothes suited
me well, and I bought my own air conditioners
to plug the square holes that pierced the walls
of each bedroom. In the evenings I drank and murmured
in the first-person plural, the trees on the hillside
across from the block cooed back from the mirror.
I could hardly see my green self through the trunks.
from Lairs by Judy Brown (Seren, 2022)
© Judy Brown
With kind permission from Seren
Lairs by Judy Brown
Judy Brown was born in Cheshire. She grew up in Northumberland and Cumbria and studied English at Cambridge and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She has worked as a lawyer in London and, in the early 1990s, in Hong Kong. Her pamphlet, Pillars of Salt (Templar Poetry, 2006), won the Templar Pamphlet Competition. She received the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize, and won the Poetry London Competition and the Manchester Poetry Prize. Judy’s first poetry collection, Loudness (Seren, 2011), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Fenton Aldeburgh Prize. Her most recent collection, Crowd Sensations (Seren, 2016) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Ledbury Forte Second Collection Prize. Judy now works as a freelance tutor and mentor and gives Poetry Surgeries in London and online for the Poetry Society.
Her third collection Lairs is forthcoming in October 2022.