Poetry- Cathy Bryant

Unasked, He Teaches Me Photography

Keep your horizons level, he says.
And not in the middle. Upper third
or lower.
But I don’t want a postcard, nor art.
I just – that is – I mean – to catch
that moment when I looked up
from the sleeping sand, warm
on my back, and saw, and saw,
and saw, angles dancing in water
and sky, lines and corners made
of light and liquid sliding into
each other, and they shone
with brilliance.
A seagull, he says, must either be
a focal point or a counterbalance.
Why counter? Why not just a balance?
I ask. If something balances
a composition, then it’s doing it
to something anyway. The ‘counter’
is irrelevant.
He looks at me sideways.
The wind grows cold on the beach.
I know then that I’m no longer
in the frame.


This will stay, I think, though I’m not doing
much thinking. The feeling of the thick cock,
that clockwork sex-toy sensation, only warm
and human – that might melt into other memories
of sex and joy. But this – not something we’ve done
before, being new to each other, and not something
repeatable, given my crumbling knees. But this sight –
I turn my head and see you lost in bliss, lost in me.
Your shadow is on the wall. Its head flings itself back
as its perfect bottom pumps into the shadow of mine.
A moving masterpiece on a white bedroom wall,
in a rural village that rolls with the urges.

Crow Folk

Born at the time of falling leaves,
I am a Raven of clan butterfly,
soaring through the best blue.
You saw my head twitch; that was when
I caught sight of deer, dappled in trees,
and otters slipping out of the azurite river.
My husband, my mate, is a passionate
creature – also a Raven, fighting off
a falcon to win me on a Friday afternoon.
Our desire for harmony gives us
the persistence of ivy, as it fights up
to where we nest.
We need this southwest land,
these western winds that bring us
songs of hope; that show off our charm,
matched though it is with the odd shrug
of realism, as we eat the leftover dead.

The Wild Mother

I’ve played the wild mother for many a year
and dealt with infections of throat, chest and ear.
I’ve loved, fed and washed them with heart and with heft,
and now I’m  delighted because they’ve all left.

(Chorus) And it’s no, nay, never
No, nay, never no more
Will I play the wild mother
No, never no more

I went to a clothes shop I used to frequent
And all that would fit me looked just like a tent.
I flirted with hot men, they answered me nay,
your wrinkles are showing this bright summer day.

(Chorus) And it’s no, nay, never (etc)

I took from my pocket my Beamer’s keys bright
and the hot young men’s eyes opened wide with delight
They promised me loving and time of the best
and their earlier words had been ironic jest.

(Chorus) And it’s no, nay, never (etc)

When my children come home I’ll confess what I’ve done,
and enjoy the expressions of daughter and son.
I’m sure they’ll forgive me as often before
As they know that I’m good for a few cash gifts more.

(Chorus) And it’s no, nay, never (etc)

A Different Sort of Miss

When missing the sea
and the plovers who peck
tiny holes in the sand
and such, it’s hard
not to hold your husband’s
hand, and check –
that he feels it too,
paying the coins of memory.
What he says, with a look
at your wedding band,
in a kind of sad-snake-hiss:
did you ever miss me
as much as the plovers
on the pebbles, did you
ever miss me as you do
the sea?
It’s a different sort of miss,
I say. You are my land.
And you take me to the sea
and pee by the groynes.
I could not live every day
with plovers, though to see
their tiny hopping is something.
Don’t be jealous of a wave
or sand. The sea is only
the sea because we see it,
hand in hand.

About the contributor

Cathy Bryant worked as a life model, civil servant and childminder before becoming a professional writer. She has won 18 literary awards, including the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize, and her work has appeared in over 200 publications. Cathy has had two poetry collections published: Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature (Puppywolf, 2010) and Look at All the Women (Mother's Milk, 2014). She co-edited Best of Manchester Poets vols. 1-3, and Cathy's latest book is How to Win Writing Competitions (and make money) (Puppywolf, 2015). See more at www.cathybryant.co.uk and see Cathy's monthly listings for financially-challenged writers at www.compsandcalls.com. She lives in Cheshire, UK.

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