Three Poems by Jade Wallace

Old Salt

She called me once and we
met like a shipwreck.
The dark world was
hot and silver sweat
glittered on her lamp-lit
skin. I fell under a
spell of sleep just
before sunrise.
Loose-limbed, I
drowned in her

blankets and dreamt
of the greatness of
the sea. In the morning,
she lent me a book
and I left her, having
let her leave bruises
strewn across my body
and tattoo her teeth on
my hipbone. I ached for
days afterward. My ear

became a wound that
wouldn’t close for weeks.
Months later, my lungs
are clear, my skin has
been returned to a blank
and empty sail, though
my nakedness seems
irrelevant. Lying alone
at midnight, I am more
than an inch from death,

but I am less than a mile.
I try to fall in love with
other women, but they
mark no crossed
lines on my memory.
Her book is stowed now
beneath a loose wood
plank on my bedroom
floor. I am harbouring a
reason to see her again.


Twenty-somethings, lush with
absinthe, pitched green bottles from
the hillside into the lea. Splinters of
dry glass laid a chancy hallway in the
swept grass. There are more shards than
hours, so I compose the remnant wholes
into walls to mark the needled walk.
My knees bleed sigils in the doorway,
which is thinner than the sunlight that
slits the threshold on solstice.


At dusk, sunlight wriggles through
holes in the walls and swims
like tadpoles across the floor.
Water whispers as it rises from
the lifeless flesh, and goes out to

meet the desert wind. Before I
leave, I take a pocketful of
parched fruit and bring it to
the old clay vase buried in
the ground behind the house.

By autumn, the liquor there
will be disorienting and sweet.
Mother will taste it and say,
as she always does, that it’s so good
it could get the moon drunk.

If the spirits can loosen her grip,
I might finally be able to bury
the five phalanges of my father’s hand
that I dried for her last year
next to the green grapes.

Jade Wallace‘s poetry, fiction, and essays have been published internationally, including in Honey & Lime Lit, Studies in Social Justice, and The Stockholm Review. Their most recent collaborative chapbook, under the moniker MA|DE, is Test Centre (ZED Press 2019). They are currently at work finishing their first book of poetry. Find more at; and on Twitter and Instagram.

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