by Gaia Holmes

First Prize in the Bare Fiction Prize for Poetry 2016

It’s a dull, wet
liver-red light
that shines
from the dead tonight
and we have used up
all our candles.

Today, all day,
she has been
making things right,
telling the dust to leave,
polishing mirrors,
stewing the bed sheets
in sunshine,

and now, at dusk
I see the glow
of my mother
out in the garden
carrying naked flames
in her palms
like lotus buds,
warding off
the wolfish dreams,
the darkness,

and coaxing back
the good things
we have lost,
making them
cheese on toast
and cocoa
guiding them
to the lavendered
guest rooms
of our house,
saying ‘dead or alive
you are welcome here’.


Gaia Holmes

Guests won First Prize in the Bare Fiction Prize for Poetry 2016, as chosen by Helen Mort. It first appeared in Bare Fiction Magazine, Issue 9 (April 2017).

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