Lucy Durneen- New Poetry

Hill of Moses

That argument about the Brontës, I
am thinking of it again
– of Emily, I mean, the

unremarkable virgin –
I am thinking of her out of the blue,
climbing the Hill of Moses.

The Stockholm wind is like the wind
of Haworth moor,

a ravaging of snow-lit stone. I’m waiting
in front of Katarina,

the church burned twice, and cursed
(they say); I am dancing on its
bloody foundations, her

watchmakers and milkmaids, visiting them
now like I am family. I bring flowers
to strange graves.

Let me tell you as a rule I do not
write poetry –
some words last only as

long as the light, which
disappears fast here –
but Heraclitus was wrong about rivers.

Nothing changes quicker than light.
Emily knew this, how light is
two things at once,

a fast-descending storm,
a breath of lightning
You do not have to break a

heart to see it’s ruins we desire
most. And you ask why I have never read

What a strange thing love is, a storm
coming in from the blue, the
deepest, oldest, blue.

“He shall never know
how I love him,” says Cathy,
says Emily, “Not because he is handsome, but

because whatever our
souls are made of, his and mine
are the same.” Emily will

lure you into the dark, a friend
once told me; Charlotte would
lure you into a Post

Office. This is one way to divide the
world, the Romantics and
the Pragmatists, the

Catherines, the Janes, the rocks and
leaves, or frost and
fire, the ones who have to remind

themselves to breathe, the
ones who can’t forget,

can’t –

[there is a hole in this poem, its
body is open. Do not cover
it up, Emily is telling me, the

thing this poem is trying
to find, its shipwrecked
heart – ]

speak of the beautiful and wild and
insane and genius; I am saying, not all leaves fall
in winter, some of us are

coming home to the haunted
moor, we are sucking the mouths of
ghosts. I am not going to read

Jane Eyre now; I am too old, I am fatigued
of love. I am in love
with cities and cathedrals, with

the air skimming over the
Saltsjön, I am not in love
with people. Baudelaire said the face

of the city changes faster than
the mortal heart. I don’t
know what he thought about rivers,

or light, but what the hell has happened
to Slussen?
Later in a café I will order

tea, I will write you of
the view, broken all the way to

I will tell you that an island
is a study in loneliness, an unrequited

You will pick the shards
of the Moon Tower out of Mälaren
Lake. How very small the city is, I will

say, compared to the sea.
I have always loved these misty, grey
days, slate grey like the sea

when everything feels like it is
the sea. I have always
loved the dark.

Light is like truth, like a poem, you
never step into it the same way
twice, but Heraclitus,

I have no language for
the darkness, I hide in it like
fur. Our souls, yours

and mine, so angry, so tired.
Soon we will have stopped laughing, and
you will no longer eat cake.

Charlotte is talking so loudly. My tea arrives
and Emily whispers that she prefers lemon
in her Earl Grey.

Be careful, she is saying,
the days in between where you are and
where you want to be
will have been your life.

About the contributor

Lucy Durneen’s short stories, poetry and non-fiction have been published across the UK, Europe, America and Asia, in journals including World Literature Today, Hotel Amerika, The Amorist, and Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and Highly Commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize, while her non-fiction has been adapted for broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and listed as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2017. Her first short story collection, Wild Gestures, was published this year with Australian press MidnightSun and won Best Short Story Collection at the Saboteur Awards in London.

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