[Poetry] — Elizabeth Gibson

The eagle and the crow

The eagle, burnished brown,
his beak and the arch
of his regal neck somehow in tune
with the tangled branches
behind him.
His yellow feet
planted in the snow,
his yellow beak.
And in his warm brown eyes
a kind of pride
still flickering.
Shadows fall across him
while the light plays around behind
on the bracken
and the snow
and he is beautiful.

Nobody can deny that
he was carved from fire
and rock
and ice
everything perfect
and you look into his eyes – such eyes
– and see the world reflected.

The crow,
his black claws curled around a thin branch
of a nearby tree.
Light, bobbing in the wind
his down glossy,
his eyes bright.
He looks happy
he is also beautiful
and he is free.

And the eagle gazes through his mesh
and wants to be that tiny crow
with the blue sky behind him
and the ability to uncurl his claws from that branch
and fly away
into the mountains
where he can be proud
and beautiful and free and happy

– and then the crow flies away
and the dream dies.
And the eagle stands in the snow
and watches tourists go by
through empty eyes.


I saw my first badger this summer.
It was dead.
He lay, slightly curled, completely perfect.

That was the first day of the cull
and I wondered whether he had died that way
or whether it was road kill.
Maybe both. Maybe the bullet weakened him
and the impact of the car was enough to end that tiny, fragile life.
He just looked so perfect, though.
He could have been sleeping.

He was beautiful
And I would have loved him to be my first badger
if it hadn’t meant him dying.
Maybe I’ll see a badger one night
snuffling in the moonlit woods
and I’ll wonder if it’s him
if the badger I saw was just a shell
and this is where he is

and I’ll see him for the first time all over again
and he’ll look up at me in recognition
and then snuffle away.

Before the storm

Every picture is a memory
and I look at ours and feel that day
as we hugged and I felt the wool of your jacket
and smelt the faint aroma of leather
and around us a storm was brewing.

It was too silent, the damp leaves
musty under our feet, the strong smell
of incense, of musk; we didn’t know
where it came from, we didn’t really have
time to think about it. We just were.

The sky was dark, though it was only four;
it would be pitch black by five. There was
no sound except the thunder that wasn’t there
and the tension in the air that screamed
and the pressure that begged to break.

A storm was coming, we knew it
as we embraced and we didn’t care.

When we’ll see each other again, I don’t know.

Did the storm break? I don’t really remember
– oh, I remember driving home with
a drizzled windscreen, the rain pelting down
but that was in another time, another world.


Elizabeth Gibson was born and raised in the north of England but has lived in China and France. Her experiences travelling and encountering new cultures inspire her writing, as do themes such as nature, time, life and death. She tweets @Grizonne.

Elizabeth was announced as a New North Poet at the 2017 Northern Writers’ Awards. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in AntiphonCakeFar Off PlacesLondon Journal of FictionSeverineThe Poetry Shed, Gigantic Sequins and Ink, Sweat & Tears among other places. She won Second Prize in the Poetry Society’s 2016 Timothy Corsellis Prize.

Elizabeth edits Foxglove Journal and is a reviewer for The Cadaverine and Structo. She also maintains the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester, curating a themed set of pieces of writing every month and showcasing literary events in the city.

All work is the rightful property of the author and is distributed with their permission.

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