Claire Potter

Claire Potter was a Poets Union Fellow in 2006. She is author of two chapbooks, In Front of a Comma (Poets Union, 2006) and N’ombre (Vagabond, 2007). Her first full-length collection, Swallow, will be published this October (Five Islands Press). She lives and works in London.




Our Lady Of The Cave

From the ancient tale,
the miniature cries come to me
and I see what the monk saw
in the folds of the woman’s cape:
hundreds of young birds
in a maze of warm silence
and her arms stretching out
into the blue timbre of morning
The woman softly
ushered the birds away, said they were
no longer sleeping, promised the anxious monk
that the swallows would return and fill his hallowed
parish with the credence of vagrancy––
for what is unsettling in nymphs
is celebrated in tiny birds


Genet Lesson

Three metres apart   It’s snowing & tiny fronds of ice zigzag
between us    I reach across to you      but knock a mirror––   
realise you are on my other side        turn
right––   you are not there    left and you are blue,
from out of the
hand from the mirror takes mine & you reappear  
this time dressed in Chaplin   frill of dark mist edges you
nicely   & I’d like to take a picture   but have only an umbrella
decaying flowers, violets of which the bouquet, lest we forget, becomes
an umbrella, and vice-versa: the umbrellas are like bouquets,
and the bouquets are like umbrellas
Suddenly, loss of order   & receding    Is, is
as is whatever    really right?
Three metres apart    but never so well expressed
of open air
O my rose    you whisper
          tap-dancing to curtain fall         



                                                                          The Tea Leaf Party 

My fretting friend & I
we’ll go slow tomorrow morning
not wasting any time––
We’ll trampoline trivial love
off the city pitches, spit
sugarplums and
heckle daisies with
ears pressed firmly to the ground
We’ll girdle all bleached
histories, skip
outside the radiation hoops
and below bad-mannered moustaches,
bray in raspy voices
to scare birds who open fire
from diamonds cut from sky
––Francis, come let me cradle
the qualms of your rocking suns
darn your memory pockets
with skeins of tightrope pulled
from a far-off star
and to the banksias who raise their
fiery brushes, the thurifers
will resurrect light
across our barren ground
to a clearing of the Sound
where ribaldry and tea
are taken not instinctively
but to catch leaves before they brown