Charlotte Haley

The Umbrian Hound Behind You

Turn left, you’ll reach the highs of life
Turn right, you’ll meet the lows.
For the mean old hound who bays and howls
Sees all and, limping, follows.

On crossroad one you’ll stumble,
On crossroad two you’ll pause,
But as long as you keep ahead of that dog
Your feet further the cause.

Step to, you’ll go some distance,
Leap up, you’ll risk a fall,
So seek inside that rambling pride
And tame it, once for all.

Run and you’ll stay surviving
Stop and you’ll catch a bite
For that dog’s not giving up to fate
He’s been hungry for you all night.

Hope for angels watching
Hope for someone there
To catch your skinny, clawing hands,
When jaws tear you in mid-air.

 

Mirror Garden

There is a place my grandma told me about:
“Just beyond the mirror background, south of your reflection,
Hands come. Then a warm blanket,
Right to left
Wrapped (this feeling every human deserves once at least)
And bundled that way, you wander in.

Forty years too late you’re sat in that place, lungs long,
Feet hard,
I promise. In forty years
You’ll gulp red water, spat down from ruby mountains
Sigh out
Breath bitter in the evenings –
Bitter from not speaking all day.
Tall tulip oaks.
Moving soil.

There’s a seat at the top of the Mirrorplace garden, so you sit there.
Stones in your knees after bending to the ground
After pulling up Ankri Elns from the plant beds,
Wiggly little bodies shaking off the frivvling soil,
That soil who would never behave when you first arrived
But now you’ve been here forty years,
And all but the Suns obey you.”

I asked for them to take me there – got up from my fireside cushion to plead!
Little ankles hopping,
Hands primed to dig,
But they shook their head.

“My Springtime bloom, you’re planted here.
Perhaps a day will come that loosens your roots, but for now
Look into the mirror and
Wait.”

Grace mistake

Your patience is a satin blanket on me
But I ask
With metal in my mouth:
Let me be alone a moment
Collect my penny thoughts my
Copper consciousness
And wipe up tears that spilled
Spoiled milk
Freshly fallen
Bitter cow
I’ve never loved myself and this
Is all I’ve got to prove it
Hold out cards and flowers
Thoughts and prayers
A little bit of hatred died
Because of some forgiveness
Lashed across my face like lipstick
I’ve never hated anyone but
This and that and t’other so
When I’m gone think upon my words
And not upon my accent

Charlotte Haley is a 23-year-old poet and writer originally from Sunderland, currently working and living in Basel, Switzerland. She recently co-wrote a short film about sexual health,The Clinic, produced by the BBC Arts New Creatives programme, and won the Kunsthalle Basel’s Online Writing Workshop in May of 2021 for her poem, I Like Basel but. She graduated with a BA in Classics and English from the University of Oxford in 2020, and has a blog for her short stories and poetry.