Jo Matthews


awakening the ancient amphibian of sleep I split to wake
dreams dissolving like firework smoke, slow ghosts stray on

and I long to stay in their stories but I am already moving
ripped unzipped, splitting to wake, scuttling sleep-bleared

into your room, red rabbit night light and now lips on new skin
bundle-rocking hush-shushing you, like when we breathed as one

when we would hum holy through the day unthinking
you floating in the safe flesh shell we built between us

you traversing pilgrim arpeggios of deep blood breath
and now your life alive and in my arms and so I sing

your head flung back bow-arched in corkscrewed cry
jellied snot rattling lunged breath beating fevered time 

so I will sing, repeat lull and bye until you fall back into it
your fingers curl-floating to sky as if in apparition found

as if in squally shadows a memory of your soaked divinity
angel of cells, blood-fastener, shape-shifter, I waited for you

soft-spettled spirit now in wild metal, mist of sleep-rubbed eyes
wet-edged they shine, so I will sing, blow breath on sweet sweat

until we are alone and not alone in the mouth of night
caught between worlds, so I will sing you to the other side

to the beyond but not beyond the beyond, you know that, right?
not that other beyond which jam-wakes me in the night

willing you to sleep but willing more to know you will wake
and when you wake I will sing-pray plea you back to sleep.

Your quavered breath slows tempo, white-blood calmed
so we wait for deeper waves to dip you into falling pools

white flowers come to meet you, tender shepherds near you
crystal chimes from chords of mine that split the middle night

I rock and you redeem, dropped back now to the other side
to the silver-close beyond, which will soon be burst by light.

Jo Matthews is a freelance writer and copywriter. Her poems and writing have appeared in Popshot, Acumen, The Fish Anthology and The Times, and she was recently selected by Arvon as a winner of their 5-Day Poetry Challenge. Originally from Oxford, Jo now lives with her partner Koji and their daughter Aimi in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and alongside writing poetry is (very slowly) trying to master both Japanese and Dutch.