Sarah Law

The Inside

‘That stouffe that we wrytte upon, and is made of beestis skynnes, is somtyme called parchement, somtyme velem, somtyme abortyve, somtyme membraan’
William Horman, Vulgaria (1519)

It’s the inside that counts, he says,
peeling the unborn skin away;

uterine vellum – unsullied, even
by its own first breath;

it’s white as a pearl,
soft as down; a small

still life drawn blank
from its dark womb-shelf.

Waters clear the mucus; lime
softens the border, he tells us,

between unseen calf-life
and long-form legacy;

follicles that never
felt the chill are depilated;

The veining remains,
its stopped potential mapped

into the flattish flesh. Last
wisps are scudded off, before

the matter’s stretched out on the herse
and trialed to its final purity.

The moon-blade lunellum
lifts the dust and flecks;

now it is dressed for the word,
the gem-bright colours

of sacred art, and you
–  with a stitch in your heart –

can turn and trace its page,
learning and relearning the first truths

under the hours of yourself.


The Cutters
……………for my mother

The cutters can be tough
on puffy ring fingers

so the jeweller slides
his paper under the too-tight

curves, and then his pliers –
their sleek teeth close:

the patterned gold
snaps first –its mesh

incised like chicken wire –
and is eased from her skin,

a gift, when she was in Paris
or Florence with him.

And then the wedding band,
its long constriction

suddenly cut –it’s easy,
the soft gold yields

and slides away:
shed memories

gone in a heartbeat.
We sit together, contemplate

the shucked-off coils,
and I sense that something

has hatched and flown,
its crescent leavings ours

in the blank paper’s fold.

© Sarah Law

Sarah Law lives in London, UK, and is a tutor for the Open University and elsewhere. She has published five collections of poetry and her chapbook My Converted Father was published by Broken Sleep Books in July 2018. She has recent for forthcoming work in Ink, Sweat & Tears, Amaryllis, Where is the River, Psaltery & Lyre and Saint Katherine Review, and edits the online journal Amethyst Review.

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