Natalie Whittaker


That winter I was under the influence
of moss. The first sign was a taste
for sour milk; I’d watch it cloud and spore

in tea, its spiral galaxy expanding.
Next, I decorated the flat with green doormats
and X-rays of the bronchial tubes of smokers.

I imagined the countryside, where moss
would moss over wells, stone bridges and troughs;
a place where I could let the moss

moss over me. Instead, I slept in the shower;
curled around the plughole in a damp bikini,
fingering clumps of pubic hair. I brewed soup

in old plant pots. Threaded spinach
between my teeth. Powdered my cheeks with mould.
I longed to be lichen, to breathe salt air

until the nightmares of limpets began;
their radulae rasping my flesh from rock
before leaving, returning to their home scars.

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