‘Highbury Park’: a poem by Liz Berry


    Highbury Park


In the woods at night men are fucking
amongst the gorgeous piñatas of the rhododendrons,
the avenue of cool limes.
By day I walk my son down the secret pathways,
smell the salt rime of sex on the wind,
a condom glowing with blossomy cum,
knotted and flung; I bury it gently
under the moss with my boots.
I envy them, these lovers, dark pines
beneath their knees, the tarry earth
opaline with the desire paths of snails,
fallen feathers in the dirt like warnings.
I know those days of aching to be touched
by no-one who knows you.
After he was born I wanted nothing but the wind
to hold me, the soft-mouthed breeze
coaxing my skin like the grass
from a trampled field.
How heavenly it seemed then, light shafting
emerald through wounded leaves,
the woods a church, we its worshippers,
and all that sex - freed from love and duty -
like being taken by the wind, swept
from the cloistered rooms of your life,
stripped and blown,
then jilted dazzling in the arms of the trees.


Liz Berry

About Liz Berry

Liz Berry's debut collection 'Black Country' (Chatto 2014) received a Somerset Maugham Award, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her pamphlet 'The Republic of Motherhood' (Chatto, 2018) was a PBS Pamphlet Choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018. She lives in Birmingham with her partner and their two young sons.