by Sharon Ashton

These poems were exhibited in the 2021 POARTRY EXHIBITION

Paired with artist Yuyan Li,  ‘Searching for Yuyan’ was my response to her work self-portrait0.09, and Yuyan’s work ‘girl is sacrificing’ a response to my poem ‘Girl Sacrificed’

To see Yuyan’s and my work , and other artist/writer collaborations, go to :…

Girl Sacrificed

My mother told me that when she was ten
her mother sent her to live next door 
with her grandmother, because of a war 
that raged between the two women.

A girl was the price of a fair wind  
to cool raging women; calm the sea between them

My mother told me that neighbours 
and aunts told her not to make a fuss, 
after all she hadn’t gone far, 
it was only next door.

Across walls of red brick
a chorus of women chanted 

My mother told me that every weekday
she would wait in the garden for her daddy, 
listen for his footsteps in the communal alley, 
so she could hug him and beg to go home.

The girl looked to her father, stroked his chin,
but he had no say in the war of women

My mother told me it was years 
before they let her go home,
and now holds me captive with her in the garden,
two girls waiting and listening.

I hold out my hand , but she cannot see me, and I cannot help her;
I am no goddess burst from the clouds.

Searching for Yuyan 

The journey begins. You are captured there in a moment of time and I am trying to find you.

I hear you calling: here I am, here I am, struck against this canvas of wounds and gauze binding, do you see me? And I call back: I am cutting through barbs of colour, struggling to grasp the shape of you.  

I hear you calling: I am here, I am here, do you see me now? And I call back: I see your head, yes, your magenta elfin hair, your magenta dotted cheeks. I see robot eyes streaming red and liquid white, and I see a black shape raised by your head, an arm perhaps, or jagged demon cat ready to pounce, or spiked cudgel to beat someone away, or is it to beat yourself?  And where your body should be I see a vortex fashioned from feathers of pitch, snow, sickly lemon, indigo, baby pink, the same magenta of your hair and cheeks, and everywhere arterial red, in marrow, in cells, and splattered across this gown of swirling plumage. 

travel unforeseen
begun without leaving home ─
young bird sacrificed