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Recluse by Sue Spiers


Agafia Lykova (b. 1944)

She’s born in a forest in the cabin her father builds

when the family flees the pogrom of Ashkenazim.

She outlives her mother, who starves herself

when the potato crop fails, rats get at the flour,

outlives three siblings she loses to pneumonia.

Her father dies too, in the simple passage of time.

She lives in a forest with three goats and eight hens,

walks every other day to the mountain spring,

bakes her own bread, sews and knits her own clothes.

She breaks a leg and spends weeks in a city hospital

but the smell of the place isn’t right, unnatural.

She cannot see the sky, its twilight, its sunrise,

branches spreading needles and perches in the air.

She misses the caprine smell of her own mattress.

Sue Spiers lives in Hampshire and works with Winchester Poetry Festival. Sue edits the annual anthology for the Open University Poetry Society and supports local spoken word groups. Her poems have appeared in Acumen, Fenland Poetry Journal, The North. Obsessed with Pipework and South magazines and on-line at Dust, The High Window and Ink, Sweat & Tears. Sue Tweets @spiropoetry

1 Comment

Oct 29, 2023

Astonishing how the poet weaves admiration for natural life through this bleak evocation of survival against all odds.

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