Fiona Benson

Fiona Benson’s next collection, Ephemeron, is due in February.

On the fifth day, we took him to the Kingto be received. The Queen was beside herself.She intoned constantly under her breath,part-lullaby, part-charm, words bubblingout of her mouth like water from a springin the language of her home, not hard to understand –the cloak-you-from-harm, the defects-invisible,shining in the eyes’ charm, the paternal loveand fidelity charm, the song of...

My father told me to return to my birthplace,the cave of Amnisos, and wait for a woman,that she would need me. I knew what that meant –he’d impregnated another mortal whore.I returned unwillingly to Crete. Everythingwas as it used to be, the same crude symbolism –the cave’s narrow entrance, short stalactitesnippling the roof in rows, the mother-and-child stonegrowing...

Spring

So much of this is reflex; placed on a polystyrene sphere,the female cricket scrambles towards a recording of the male,her legs pedalling desperately, like an elephant on a ball,steering towards the bright itch of his songbefore her brain even has time to register the chirr.Look at the crickets now, stacked up in boxes in this lab,the strip lights an incipient migraine, temperature...

Poem: ‘Mayfly’

Fiona Benson, 16 April 2020

Subimago

Tomorrow’s dancer     on the water’s            sticky lip

hurrying out      of her husk –            a lush fluttering

as she struggles      into late noon light,            breaking all the...

How we collectively itch under their collective whine. All night insects thicken round the clinic’s outdoor light. In the malaria ward the beds are pushed so close the sleepers share the same bad dream: a female mosquito filling her soft bulb, dipping her beak for a drop of blood to ripen her eggs; how her abdomen’s rosé flush deepens to ruby as she siphons out water as...

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