Wild Court

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

Two poems by Adam Tavel

    Photo by Jack Douglass on Unsplash 


    Somerset County Cold Case Photo, 1980


Shot from its stoop, this garden shed
brims March, a ripe compendium
of glistenings—yellow packets
of seeds like solitaire across
its workbench, new gloves still tagged.

The pegboard’s collars shine the throats
of screwdrivers by size, two pliers
gaped to Xs, a hammer’s glare,
and slender streaks where fingers grazed
the dust before each reach was made.

An upturned barrow’s wheel divides
the air. Impossible to count
how many flower pots are stacked
inside the largest one, cracked clay,
beside the rototiller’s blades

festooned with cobwebs still—
one winter’s silver stitchery.
This fading Polaroid would lead
us to believe that silver is the same
as the facedown widow’s hair

whose shipwrecked body sank inside
the doorframe. The shallow of her back
is caked with potting soil from four bags
(that emptied blew across her feet)
the killer poured to compensate

for strangling’s lack of gore, perhaps,
the dawn’s orange yawn, a rash dismay
his handiwork was too pristine,
retaining order he had found
too frail, and slumbering, unchanged.


    A Dark Pool


Laura Knight, c. 1908 - 1918


Her crimson dress, a bugled artery,
flares in the coastal breeze. Our figure stands
bold as a wayward milkmaid who fled
the dread we call betrothal. This is her rock,
worn smooth by tides that rise to crash its face
above the eddied pool we must presume
sends back her wavered form each time she stares
into the bobbing pink larghissimo
of jellyfish. Their tentacles fan out
beneath her sandy feet perched in a crook,
gull-like. How far away two husbands are
is measured by her calm. They’ve left Lamorna’s bells
again, a painter and her sunlit muse,
to clamber slipping up the moss-furred cliffs.