New poetry by Jean Taylor

Have You Ever Tasted Cardboard and Other Important Questions

When he lost his sense of smell, he claimed

that everything tasted of cardboard.


She wondered if he had been in the habit

of chewing cereal packets or nibbling


on playing cards and whether the plastic coating

added extra flavour.


Afterwards she thought it was a good idea

to take his empty shoes out to the snow.


Did she think she was writing similes in footprints,

mapping an outline for her surprising future?


Now her skin is petalled with dried leaves, spiders

dance a scarlet tarantella across her cheeks


and sometimes she wears slippers in the garden.

Waiting for the Ferry

Nervous of islands, he dreams of drowning

under the space the sky takes up.

He longs to be on board at night, seeing

only reflections in darkened windows –

bodies curled like snails drawn into shells

or, propped up, head-nodding,

chins clanking against breastbones.

He longs to hear the rhythm of engines,

the whispers of other passengers,

to feel the tilt of the ship in the Minch breeze.

He longs even more for mainland services,

the presence of trains, being able to walk

the slow road home, under a smaller sky.

About the contributor

Jean Taylor lives in Edinburgh. Her poetry has been published in a range of publications including Pushing Out the Boat, Orbis, Northwords Now, Firth and Envoi as well as in anthologies and online. Her pamphlet Deliberate Sunlight was published by Black Agnes Press in 2019.

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