Two Poems by John Clegg


Lie still. This is the cusp of comfortable.
One thin towel can’t muffle the hot slats
and a mist is pressing on you like cement.

You’ve become the confluence of two rivers,
one of liquid salt and one of steam, which
pour over your bones and work them edgeless –

and the tiered box is so crisp and angular,
it carves up even light like church windows.
You lie perfectly still. You are what flows.


A silent accordion
she cools her hands to play
in the kitchen corner.

I try and it seems
to writhe against my grip.
In her firm press

it doesn’t struggle,
it flows through the shapes
she offers it: she leads

but makes the dough
an equal partner. Hard stem
of the palm is what she

works with. Sometimes
you can see a medic working
to restore a heartbeat:

bread needs breath,
unspooling yeast needs air.
I need that strength

of touch, that medium
which yields as it strains
to rise. So I kiss her hands.

John Clegg was born in 1986 and is studying for a PhD at Durham University on the Eastern European influence in contemporary English poetry. His e-chapbook, Advancer, was published in 2010 by Silkworms Ink, and other poems have been published in Magma, The Rialto, Succour and Pomegranate, while others are forthcoming in Horizon Review and The Salt Book of Younger Poets. He is currently assembling a first collection.


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