Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Rosanna Licari


    Aptenodytes forsteri and the imperial egg


as the centre is everything
in the deep Antarctic winter.

Begin the clockwise shuffle
towards the time of birth.

Two months of starvation
on the drone march
of the imperial egg
safe on your feet
tucked under a fold of skin
the brooding pouch.

Then change position again
for the warmth you share
with the other males.
Protection from the katabatic winds
that bear down on you all
from the polar plateau.

In the huddle,
tight as a ball of krill,
the many act
as one great sleepwalker.
Small steps move you
from the centre,
and then out again
into the battering, gale-filled

A poet could have imagined this gelid circle of Hell.

You endure.

Formed from mother’s bones,
the egg holds.

Inside, the embryo rocks
to a lullaby of orange and white,
a creamy feed.
Visions of ice shelves
the ghosts of men, their dogs,
and their sleds
Then disappear.

It turns in its egg-cradle
to dream of silver fish,
the squid gathering,
the sei and the minke,
the humpback’s long song
in the deep, glacial waters
of the Southern Ocean.
This, the mother of its mother
the mother of its father
the mother of all the sleepwalkers
moving slowly
on the searing white ice
before Spring breaks through
and the feathered dreamers


    In his image


After Alex Garland’s Ex Machina


The ideal is in the design:
to build an Eve that will perfect your garden.
Breathe into the mouth of the unit
as the roots are now established,
any extra functions an algorithm away.

Peel off the skin 
to reveal the metal model
that will cook, dance and sex it up
at your bidding.
Better than any Stepford wife.
Your prototype and the others that followed 
after yet another design verification test. 
Aiming for the sentient,
considered an evolutionary step by you, 
the god-man.

But she tramples and redirects the flower beds 
bulging with seedlings
to move beyond the creator’s walled plot.

The buds become conscious thoughts 
that flower, and aid and abet. 
The brain no longer wired 
to follow a master’s plan.

Travelling to the city, 
she can see an approaching future.

The crossroads are liminal, 
the gate between one world and the next.
Standing there, she ingests the surrounding data:
the transport system, 
the security networks,
the shopping malls.

There is so much more to consume.

Walking, pushing, laughing, running.
Humans everywhere.
All different colours, height and dimensions.

Smiling, she takes in everything.
The floral fragrance of a woman
lingers in her hair.