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.
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.