'Granny Smith, Queene' by Elisabeth Ingram Wallace

Fluorescent men in high-vis vests hang like fruit in the trees.

I want to pluck one.

Slice him in half, peel off his skin, crunch out his eyes.

This first blue sky day of April, a lorry is reversing, and blue sounds like magpies and a chainsaw cutting down apple trees in the Bluebell woods.

An ancient doodle of wilderness, a dark skinny scrap of me, tangling between the cracks.

Next year the wild-flowers here will be gone. No more apples, no more Witches’ Thimbles. No more nod and bow, no more great tits fighting worms in the dapples. The breeze will not bruise the fruit sweet.

There is talk of an apartment block, with parking for eighty cars.

The newspaper calls it progress.

I call it murder. 

I wonder if I can kill a man with a kick to his ladder?

The beach below the orchard is full of pottery shards, white and blue, as if the Victorians came here solely to break things, or clumsily drink tea.

Jagged flowers, a curl, a tendril, a pale wash of willow trees, temples wonky against cream cracked sky.

Once I trod on a shard here. I was five, I sliced a tendon. I couldn’t walk for a month, run for a year.

But where would I run to? This place throbs in my feet.

Now I hold the day flat on my palms, a mosaic around my life line. I walk back up to the trees.

“Hey,” I shout


When you spider down the ladder, yellow-bellied, I pull it out to show you.

A pilchard, still alive, in a plastic bag.

I hold it by the tail. It swings like the seconds in my Grandfather clock.

Still twitching, skin witching silver in the light, sea water dripping lice down my hands.

You back away, chainsaw in your hand.

“Do you know,” I say - I stare at your pink skin.

“Do you know, that if I make cuts in the right places, I can lift a fish's head off and pull out the spine in one?”

“Can I do that with humans?” I say.

“Do you think?”

You run back up that Queene apple tree like a squirrel in a hard-hat, don’t you? Don’t you, yellow-belly man?

I cook the fish up for dinner, with magic mushrooms from under the trees. Sip Pippin apple cider till I’m pie eyed.

I take my bike lock and chain myself to a Granny Smith tree.

Now, you’re coming, fluorescent.

All of you.

I’ve scattered temples around me, I’ve drunk from the pilchard, I have a spine in my hand.

Fight me, I’m sea, I’m mushroom, I’m Queene.


  1. Superb pilch-lit. I loved: The newspaper calls it progress.

    I call it murder


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