Staying Human: new poems for Staying Alive #2



Leaving Early

My Love,

tonight Fionnuala is your nurse.

You'll hear her voice sing-song around the ward

lifting a wing at the shore of your darkness.

I heard that, in another life, she too journeyed

through a storm, a kind of curse, with the ocean

rising darkly around her, fierce with cold,

and no resting place, only the frozen

rocks that tore her feet, the light on her shoulders.

And no cure there but to wait it out.

If, while I'm gone, your fever comes down –

if the small, salt-laden shapes of her song

appear to you as a first glimmer of earth-light,

follow the sweet, hopeful voice of that landing.

She will keep you safe beneath her wing.

Leanne O'Sullivan



Staying Human is the fourth in Neil Astley’s Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies from Bloodaxe Books, due out on National Poetry Day, 1st October. Bloodaxe have joined forces with Unbound to offer readers an advance subscription with exclusive extras (offer closes 31st August). For more details, see: https://unbound.com/books/staying-human.


Staying Human includes 500 thoughtful and powerful poems about living in the modern world, with a strong focus on the human side of living in the 21st century. Bloodaxe would like to thank One Hand Clapping for offering this space to share these poems from Staying Human with readers.