I can pin each scar on my body to a date and time
but I’ve lost all the cold stoves I’ve ever touched.
I tell myself: the heart is a muscle.
I tell myself: stay. Remember that whales
speak in local dialect. Remember artichokes,
and towpath violets. There are moths that drink
the tears of sleeping birds, and there was that day
under the lodgepole pines when we realised
the breaks in the backlit canopy meant two trees
would never hit in a storm. How tender, you said;
to keep yourself separate so you cannot wound.
I hadn’t told you about the mood charts, then.
Or the pills. I stayed for the hope. And when
my bones showed through, you pulled me in.
Each rib a blade in your hide. Still I was held.
Cheryl Pearson is the author of two poetry collections (‘Oysterlight’, Pindrop Press, 2017, and ‘Menagerie’, The Emma Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including Mslexia, The New Welsh Review, The Moth, and Amsterdam Quarterly, and she has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her short fiction has been published in TSS, Longleaf Review, and Confingo among others, and she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award in 2017. She lives and writes in the Peak District.