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To Loss

Alyson Kissner

The following work by Alyson Kissner was written during her time on the Creative Writing Masters degree programme at the University of Edinburgh. This campus-based course is a one-year degree with dedicated strands in fiction and poetry. (There is also a Writing-for-Performance degree as well as an on-line Masters in Creative Writing for part-time students). Alyson Kissner is the recipient of the University of Edinburgh’s William Hunter Sharpe Memorial Scholarship Award. ‘To Loss’ and ‘Green Love’ are poems from her collection-in-progress, SUGAR HAYWOOD. She featured in the inaugural edition of our annual Creative Writing anthology, From Arthur’s Seat, which is published by Egg Box.


I have anticipated

I call out shapes
and bleach them

             of tenderness.

This is my mother
—my mother is dead;

These are my friends
—my friends are no longer

              my friends.

Is it really so impossible
to imagine permanence?

I am not disturbed
by entropy

             or the breaking of stars.

I fear the disorder
of fingers:

how a pinkie once bent
might grow

             and fall

out of love
with my hands.



I am haunted by loss
             yet to happen.

I have hesitant ghosts,

             of their skins.

They are crossing
the road

like drunk uncles,

             into streetlamps,

losing their feet
on cobblestone.

The fuzz in their mouths
is just drink, they say.

             where am I? they say.

They are sinking
in moonlight.

Soon, their bodies
will remember

             this death,

floating upwards
like childhood balloons.




I have boxes to prove
you once loved me—

picture books
with ears bent,

ticket-stubs gone blue
with damaged ink.

When you leave, I’ll nail them
to the sky for your others

                        to see.

If you die first, I’ll tattoo
             our colours

             to my eyelids.

When I close them
I will almost forget

                        I’m alone.

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