Two poems by Nicola Healey

 
 

    Six Months Away

 

(After Robert Lowell)

 

Discharged as ‘homeless’, then to
a room that felt wilfully hostile
(lurid curtains and bristling carpet squares),
I was permanently provisional.

The whole city became a hospital,
a seeping infiltration. Outside
was fleetingly better
than a condemning four-walled stare.

My fat fire door would shut
on my shaky frame, as if to make a point:
I was an obstruction in the world’s gut,
and though forward-oriented,

stuck. No breezing through here
(and how I craved a vital breeze).
It was the heat wave of 2013; I went to bed
with ice cubes round my neck.

Murray had finally won Wimbledon,
and the Crown another layer of heir.
It seemed a summer
of broken records and ground.

And it cracked like a sonic boom
that only I could hear:
I was utterly alone.

I didn’t know beyond ‘rock bottom’,
there was a molten mantle, and a core of hell…

I had joined a wreck of society.
My future was all behind me,
I had no place of rest.
I was terrified, fresh and hopeless.

 
 

    Pentimento

 

Traces of each age, in certain lights or moods
or states of erosion, show through your surface.
Time is the preserving, revisionary artist.

We don’t know when each layer has ended
until we find ourselves concealed by the next.
We look out helpless, with original eyes.

 
 

Nicola Healey

About Nicola Healey

Nicola Healey’s poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine and The Spectator, among other places. She won the Seren Christmas Poetry Competition 2018, and was commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2019 and 2017, and the Resurgence Poetry Prize 2015. She is the author of 'Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge: The Poetics of Relationship' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).