Sometimes habits pull you through
and you wonder if it should be scuffed
and slack and holding hands
in the dark, bristle calved, taking
turns to spit in the sink and piss.
Or if it should gleam tight like a cherry.
You wonder if this is the taste of bruises
from the bag, whether the crash of juice
in your ears will stop when the rot sets in
whether it is better to shrivel as a pair
on the stalk or pluck now – softest pop –
and lick sweet sap from the wound.
Rachel Bower is a poet and research fellow at the University of Leeds. Her pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published with Valley Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, which is out with Valley Press in November 2017. Her book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. Rachel’s poems have been published by Stand Magazine, BBC Radio, Now Then Magazine, Valley Press, Three Drops Press, The Stare’s Nest, Pankhearst and others, and she has had poems shortlisted for several prizes, including The London Magazine Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize 2016. She is also the founder of Verse Matters, a feminist arts collective in Sheffield.