Willing the Tide to Turn

Catherine Edmunds

Willing the Tide to Turn

The sea, blue as love, is just inches away, but a million
tortoiseshell butterflies are suddenly ominous, you’ve
released them from a bright lacquered box, they should
never have been imprisoned. They clatter to the ground,
pins through their thoraxes. Their pain erupts in my belly.

A wounded walker once shared a box of chocolates
with me; he had a broken foot, sepsis set in, he said
if he rested, lay still, he would soon be overcome
by snails, he found this funny, me too, I knew
it would be a better ending than what I’ve endured

with you. Sometimes the rain is soft, sometimes I want
to stop all the clocks, to build a new life from tiny pieces
of coloured paper, to fashion twisted juniper trees,
fallen walls, to consider your reflection—it’s still there— 

but I fear you’ve forgotten all but the small sad songs.
You exist in the delirious smell of old dust and I don’t know
what you see. Tick… nothing happens, nothing happens,
nothing happens… tock. Still nothing.

Come back to me. We’ll ride the old rockets again,
the ones with the leather-stropped windows,
the small round lightbulbs. Come back to me.

Broken butterflies crunch and snap underfoot.
I smell burning and your face appears like a spell in the air— 
we turn towards the sea, and its waiting silence aches.


Catherine Edmunds is a writer, artist, and fiddle player with award nominated Irish folk/rock band ‘Share the Darkness’. Her published written works include two poetry collections, four novels and a Holocaust memoir. She has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, shortlisted in the Bridport four times, and has works in journals including Aesthetica, Crannóg and Ambit. Catherine lives in North-East England between the High Pennines and the grey North Sea.

Editor’s Notes: Image is https://www.deviantart.com/robbendebiene/art/Butterfly-Small-Tortoiseshell-526270727 combined with https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2019/08/16/Millions-of-butterflies-swarm-Lake-Tahoe/9621565958795/

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