Sam Kemp


Time had not come

…to Oscar Buckland’s birthday
but remained on the windowsill
of last winter, like a stone
skimmed halfway across a frozen lake.

…to the hay curled in grains
and fidgeting with dreams
of tall lineages, great uncles standing
in ranks of country militia.

…to the door left open for midnight
which disperses like perfume
in a memory
waiting to be seated.

…to the ice on the front steps
pinning down balls of air
and stalking Oscar’s ankles,
like a reluctant house cat.

…to a mother’s groans
as she splits soft oak
in the woods behind Oscar’s house,
pausing to breastfeed a baby.

…to the father
that writes from battle
stained France at the end
of the lane, miles from the front.

…to the knees of grandparents
the original mountains
miles from the stone floor
and shrouded in knitwear.

…to the new year’s snow on the barn
he burnt down with a kick
of an oil lamp. Sunset in the East
caught in streetlights overhead.

…to the white belly of a wedding
night and the slow descent of clothes
that slip down the moonlight
and crumple by Oscar’s feet.

…to the wife that carries tea
and calls his name
over the moorland, opening
with every step and shiver of his gown.


Sam Kemp  a graduate of the University of Gloucestershire’s Creative and Critical Writing MA programme, where he focused on trickster elements in Don Paterson’s Rain. His previous publications include Dreamweaver, Envoi and Angle.

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