Two poems by Ruth Beddow





Julie shouts from her second-floor window
and this plastic-clad pile becomes home.


Julie’s German Shepherd howls as I unpack
a five-tog duvet, free the dying wasp. Examine
suspect stains on the curtain hem and run knuckles
over woodchip, hoping it will have its day again.


Julie walks her beast in the square of receding grass
outside our house. Three of us sit on the pink pleather sofa –
a throne we call the Rat Hotel. Nod Julie’s way
and Julie squints back. Her front garden consists
solely of marigolds, as if they’re all her soil sustains.


Julie unbolts her door as I attempt a parcel drop and run.
The dog’s mouth foams like spume on a hot beach.
She says the council are all cunts. In our front garden
fag butts prod through gravel like rotting babies’ fingers.
I glance at hers, then begin to weed ours with a fish slice.


Julie’s lover smokes outside as our first party guests arrive.
You can smell his soured cologne, hear his hoarseness
through the scarcely open window. Julie sounds happy,
adolescent, like the ring-pull on her dark fruit cider.
Shoots me a wink as they waltz their way inside.


In those days the kitchen was all table and the fruit bowl
all flies. A single striplight flickered against artrex, dripped
a decade of lard onto peeling lino. At some point Julie’s dog
died and we didn’t see her for some time. The odd thud
or hum of Iron Maiden reassured us she was still alive.


When it was time for the moving vans to pull away
Julie resurfaced at that window like an apparition,
which she never was. Shouted something I don’t remember
about new tenants, more trouble, they never stay long
and waved her ceaseless wave goodbye.


    Questions to a mound


I want to ask what the tiny spoons mean,
how the Sri Lankan garnets found their home here
and whether Raedwald was a benevolent king

I want to know which gods I have neglected
to believe in, if they ever walked the ridges
of this estuary or are known to walk here still –

you sailing backwards in between them, waiting
to reanimate with each stray footstep, every pang
of progress on your hollow pile of peppered earth.

Tell me if you meant for me to walk for miles
and never find you? Here between the crooked pines
where something of a keel line slices sleet

then on my knees in an unrelated field,
sky prized open for the baptism I never had,
like some Saxon jape that hasn’t aged well.


Ruth Beddow

About Ruth Beddow

Ruth Beddow is a London-based poet and heritage professional, originally from Birmingham. Ruth has been published and shortlisted by Write Out Loud, Poetry Teignmouth, The Magdalena Young Poet’s Prize, and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Rooted in the everyday relationship between people and place, her writing explores landscape, the built environment and psychogeography. Ruth graduated from English Department at King's in 2018 and went on to an MA in Transnational Studies at UCL.