Prophecy’ and ‘Harpies’


The sky will roll up
the darkness of its scroll
and the chiming of the spheres
fall back to silence.
The earth will split
itself in many places,
bleeding a fiery ichor,
swallowing down
whole citadels and palaces of kings.
The waters will dry up and, 
where the sea was, 
great plains of salt will grit
and glint like quartzite.
Serpents will parch,
becoming small as reeds,
and the birds of the air
fly off, past 
the edge of the world.
Nobody, then, will know 
our names: the places 
where we walked
will be forgotten
in ignorance, beneath
thick slabs of time.
Things commonplace to us –
creatures conversing,
the resurrected dead,
spells said by night – 
will be unknown
to the diminished peoples
tramping above 
the ruins of our halls.
Still, when their bones
lie prone among the debris
of homes and forests,
ghosts will flit and yammer
about the things we did,
the sights we saw.


Our claws can’t hold enough to fill our mouths.
We swoop and clench
them round the smallest morsels – 
the wet globe of a grape, 
a paring of pungent cheese – 
we feed on these and fall
back to your table to seize
another crumb – a cherry’s ruby,
a biscuit’s broken corner,
a cord of meat.
We shove them down without discrimination,
our bellies bloated by our famishment.
There is no pleasure in each passing flavor.
The scents bring nothing in the way of comfort.
We can’t be sated.
Our wings are gaunt and broken.
Our faces droop with hollows.
Our eyes are dull,
like stagnant water, filmy and inert.
It’s pain that makes us plague you,
pain that knifes,
opens itself, a flower
made out of knives,
spreading itself across our emptiness,
the taut domes of those convex tummies.
You flap your hands.
You curse us.
You are full.


About the contributor

Kitty Coles' poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and have been nominated for the Forward Prize and Best of the Net. Her debut pamphlet Seal Wife (2017) was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize. Her first collection, Visiting Hours, will be published in 2020 by The High Window.

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