Wild Court

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

Three poems by Rebecca Farmer

The Dark Self 12, Susan Aldworth, 2017, monoprint, 56 x 76 cms. Image courtesy of the artist and Guy’s Hospital, London.



    At the sleep disorders clinic, Guy’s Hospital


after The Dark Self 12


... then a girl with flaxen braids appears in the corridor
to record my height and weight and produces a tape
to measure my neck – the last surprises me
but not as much as this framed monoprint
of what might be an item of Victorian underwear.

A closer look and I see these are not the seams and folds
of a chemise but the apparition of a grey linen pillowcase
that hovers above deckled paper as dark and ragged
as the nights when my stone pillow refuses to let me sink:
I struggle to be free of tangled hair and feathers
and the scrabbling insects of a mind that won’t give in.

With her inks and fabrics this artist gives me back the
floating depths between wakefulness and sleep
in which I drifted last night and will drift again.


    The ghosts choose their mattresses with care


and refuse to sleep on memory foam.
Unlike the living, they know
they’d leave no mark.

Instead the ghosts prefer to balance
on holes in metal springs –
uncomfortable, they feel real.

When they sleep, they dream of teeth
collapsing one by one with the sound of
shattering glass – a scene from Tom and Jerry.

Then, frozen to the wheel, they’re driving
a truck through the white wall of a storm –
it takes their breath away.

What they want to dream is colours,
knowing they’ll wake to the monochrome of rain
falling from a morning sky.


    The wardrobes of ghosts


smell of nights spent at sea.
Hangers from drycleaners
swing on metal rails.
When the wires clink
the ghosts join in.

They try on outfits
to wear on that special day
when wedding gowns,
pyjamas and pinstripe suits
are changed for feathers
or dresses of burst balloons.

Draping waterfalls across
places where bodies used to be
they perch mountains
like hats on skulls and
trail cherry blossom (attached
with paperclips) to give
that Japanese look.