Jessica Mayhew OH Competition

Jessica Mayhew

Open House Competition 2019: Highly Commended


Before she left, we found the ocean
in strange places.

Her teeth pearled in the glass
by the window,

she used to laugh, say that we rolled
our vowels all around our mouth,
before we spat them out.

We never learned her own clipped tongue,
or the taste for salt on porridge,
brine seeking vein, a way back home.

All night, we watched the herring
swim overhead in great flashes,

a slick aurora above the town.
The next day, the lawns were littered,

before the knife shone against the
scales, throat opened, belly split,

the cooper's boot, the oar’s labour, the shock of sky,

the gullet-slide beneath the floodtides.

Jessica Mayhew is the author of two pamphlets, 'Someone Else's Photograph' and 'Amok.' Her first full-length collection is titled Longship and is inspired by Norse mythology. Longship will be published in November 2019 by Eyewear Press and will include the poem published here.