Wild Court

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

‘Five Breaths’: a poem by Eleanor Rees

Five Breaths

were needed to extinguish the flame
and now a red wick leans into the melt,

diving into a quarried lake
high in the mountains to find mouthfuls
of salt in the freshwater under the slate.

Here, dust edges the decorations.

The holly wreath curls, browns,
is a woodland floor alongside a stream
which pours towards the quarry.

Inside the wreath berries are the eyes of a fox
on the grass verge along the back lane
which runs towards the Hill.


2 am; I hear them in the dark
of the spare room the day after Christmas,
a scream like a child being hit

and then a long extension
like the downstroke of a comma
hangs in the air and repeats five times

as they patrol along the markings
of the side streets, stepping pawprints over the double yellow,
disappearing into alleys to return and process

towards the cemetery across Boundary Road
where a candle burns in a derelict chapel,
(funds are sought for its repair),

and the fox with the red hair and human face,
leans across the municipal railings
and towards the chancel, then blows

through canine teeth, five times,
as the light waivers but will not go out.