Maddie Godfrey




When I Return to London
It asks me how long I can hold my breath for
I tell the city, that I invented drowning
That I knew the ocean when it was only limbs / not yet a body
That could not swallow
Only spit or spray

I tell London, that I knew the ocean
Way back when
It was sinking too
Before the waves and the wildlife
I tell London, that I have seen how wonder looks before others glance its way
How a universe looks when it is still an atom
How all humans still sway like windscreen wipers
On days there is no storm

When I return to London
The city does not ask where I have been
It is an abusive lover
I will leave, then come home to
Only to count each bruise like a new bedtime story

The city asks
If I have learnt to run in my sleep
I ask it if the ocean sleeps
I do not say, I am the ocean
But I mean, I am going to make waves
I am going to crash again and again
And still thrash like nothing has happened
I am going to bubble over
While everyone watches
I am going to scream until the seagulls
Arrive to offer assistance

And I will drown in myself
Just like the ocean does each night
Before the sky resuscitates it,
I will hold my breath
Just to remember how good oxygen tastes
In desperate lungs

Because one day the ocean will say
That it knew me when I was only limbs
Not yet a body





Maddie Godfrey is an Australian-bred poet living in London. She has won poetry slams in Western Australia, London, Oxford and Cambridge. Maddie has performed at the Sydney Opera House, and at a festival held in a graveyard.

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