Wild Court

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

Three poems by Jane Lovell


    The pool below the oak


Remember this:

a driftway brimming cow parsley, bramble,
its green beaded fruits;

the field into which we clamber over wire,
balance each other;

that pool below the oak, black and bitter
with tannins, where the cattle come to lap;

the lack of breeze;

the oak, its motionless leaves
and my face caught, for an instant, in the water,
staring into dislocated sky

knowing that one of us, in time,
in a too-large upstairs room, all floorboards
and echoes,

will watch lamps silhouetting an empty street
and catch, for an instant, in the backlit glass

a stranger, someone from another world,
staring out into the dark.



    Fieldfares and a Knothole, Monks Pool


They steal away sunlight on belly and wing,
each stipple and streak, each blade-edge
tilted to the wind.

Below their squabbling, their barrelling
tin-scrape scolding, the determined unpicking
of this low grey sky,
            we trace a line back to silence,
in its lee, find a portal to another time:
a holloway to copse and clearing, leaf
            and riotous winding weed,
                        an eternity of green,
a pool where you can lie and dream
among the curious flickering fry.

There is a path, but camouflaged:
                                  an old way,
trodden by the ghosts of sheep,
hidden in the rain lingering on twigs,
                        their mystical upside world.

Only your mind can steal into this world;
your bones, your terrible human heart,
you must leave behind.





The hard edge of her became a cliff-top
from which I hung by my fingertips.
Far below, the sea lapped cold
            through empty rooms,
windows heaved and clammed.

Sometimes she'd smile
and I'd rest for a moment on a ledge,
its ragged grass secured with clover,
            cranesbill, vetch,
and dream of boats.

I was already damned before she knew me.
A quiet baby. Ready for a cot,
its pink chalk paint and 60s transfers.

She was so prepared.
She was so unprepared:
a row of dolls, an oriental porcelain tea set,
the bear she later threatened to burn.

There was a girl in her head
that twirled like a ballerina, loving
the whole sky
that she had provided.
            Not the grubby thing that crawled
through hedges, stealing scraps
for birds, climbing fences to escape
to other worlds.

Each day she'd press me carefully
                        into a box
and each night I'd break free
and fly like an owl to the darkest corners
of the garden.

She never found me.

Now she is old, I visit when I can.
I take her flowers, arrange all
the necessary care.

I am so prepared.
I am so unprepared:
            her frailty, the thinnest gull
            from a cliff,
                        on brittle air.