Runner-Up for the 2023 Grierson Verse Prize

Alice Eaves is an artist and writer from Blackpool, England. She is currently completing her MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. She has been published or forthcoming in The Literary Platform, The Manchester Review and Origin Stories: An Anthology of Beginnings with Forest Press. Her work explores witchcraft, folklore and our relationship to the natural world.

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Breeding Fires

Air so baked it cuts the nostrils, makes the bogies burn like embers. The carnal touch is coarse and wicker. Wicker fingers, wicker penis, wicker bodily juices drop like pine needles to the floor. Remember the pines, how they used to dance in the breeze. Remember the breeze, coils of relief drifting from the tides. Remember the tides, being lulled to sleep under their gentle grumble. When sleep came easy.

Now, children race through the sand with sea bird bones, build castles from their ribcages, puppet dolls from their wings. They learn to communicate with these creepy fledgling figurines. Spinning and slipping down dunes once cloaked by winter frost. Tears stream the cheeks of grandfathers who once laughed at gavage around the water cooler, numb to the capitalist foie gras machine. Pumped their bellies with oil and coal, competing to see who could ram the rubber tubing down first.
Fatty gullets and grease drip chins.

sunk under hot springs

let wisp steam unwind the truth

spun mad by flash fires