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Two Poems

Emily Berry

The Musculoskeletal Condition

Every time I step outside I bang my soul on an osteopath.
When the phone rings it’s usually an osteopath, calling to tell me
            about the new bones.
Osteopaths! I am tired of prostrating myself on your rolled-out
            strips of paper.
Sure, the musculoskeletal condition is just as important as the downturn!
It could be a contributing factor.
Yes, I will vote for you, osteopath.
I will praise your children.
I will consider holidaying in the Dordogne region.
Osteopaths, stop rummaging in my pockets I have nothing left.
Osteopaths, I’m sorry I didn’t mean it.
It’s just . . . the balance of power does not favour the achy.
(I can hear the coathangers jangling.)
Osteopaths, why are none of you in the government?
Osteopaths, how did you all meet and what do you talk about (besides
            the musculoskeletal condition) at the osteopaths’ barbecues?
What would you do if everybody got better and you could no longer
            afford these premises?
Osteopaths, thank you for answering my questions.
Thank you for your sterile gel.
Thank you for your kind interest in my poetry.

Previously published in The White Review


Love Bird

                      My bird since you left I have loved strangely
             I have been various
A man came                   There was something wrong with him
His eye whites shone like teacups                 He was not usual
I might have conjured him                            He took my hand
He kissed my hand, yes, okay                          Girl: he spoke
         Love cannot live by these laws       (he intoned this)
His stories were mostly warnings
                                         I am love’s crooked detour, he said
Look at me
       He had my face in his hands and I couldn’t not look
He pried my eyes open     I saw him changing                Lover:

Love was not one thing it took many shapes
                                                                                            I mistook
its presence     I worshipped it sometimes      other times I ran
I called it names I starved it till my ribs were a grand birdcage
            Love was no bird

Originally published in Dear Boy (Faber & Faber, 2013)

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