Shades @ Visual Verse

My poem, Shades, has just been published on the wonderful website, Visual Verse. The poem responds to a striking image by the artist Alejandro Alvarez.

Each month Visual Verse offers an image and challenges writers to respond in one hour – and in no more than 500 words. Check it out and give it a go! The full text of my poem can also be found below:


If she shakes her face fast enough
the bruises blur to cool glass,
a brittle band of dark shade across her eyes
which her fingertips tap like ice.
It’s better than the suck of wet plum.

The glare is bearable through the glass
if she keeps her head moving.
She stares out defiantly at neon breasts and impossibly bright legs,
her own feet rooted in the earth.

The ankles are spattered with sap and shit
but she holds them, stiff, nonetheless.
This stops her getting lost.

The quiet chair has been waiting for weeks,
inviting her to rip her thin white roots from the soil
and rest her thighs, dangle her toes, swing her calves
to look the world in the eye.
Come, hold your head high and still.

But she slurps water through her feet for now,
face still spinning, tender sockets, shades intact.
In this way she hopes to survive.


Rachel Bower

(“Shades” was first published by Visual Verse Vol 4.7)

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