Beth Louella – Surpasses All


‘Surpasses All’ (original artwork 50cm x 100cm, paint and embellishment on canvas) explores spiritual peace and comfort in times of anguish. I have experienced peace and comfort like this in particularly tough times, such as bereavement through suicide. It is difficult to depict the unseen but it’s something I often try to do in my artwork. The woman is holding a plant in her bleeding hand, the wind blows her hair obscuring her face and flame like brush strokes rise in the background suggesting hardship and pain. Despite this, the woman exudes peace and calm through her glowing skin, the ethereal gold, her relaxed closed eyes and outstretched hand on her chest. The plant in her hand is olive blossom which is a symbol of peace.


Laura Potts – But then parts of you

are dead. I sent the world a postcard from a fusty

window that said

I am wearing my grief.

Sling clothes into the bin: your socks, your skirts,

the notebook in the pocket of the moth-eaten dress;

pearls, perfume,

that locket – yes – the one etched with that lover’s name

you would never speak, but traced with warmer words

in the tepid curls

of firelight. Death in his Sunday finery asleep in the hall.

I call. Mother. Hear you still singing while washing

the dishes.

Now. Minds do many things. Canteen food garden gate

passing-bells rings. A wind slips beneath the door and

I hear you humming,

a voice swollen with the years of rolled-up sleeves

and tired eyes. The cries of a child at its mother’s knee.


I remember Wordsworth, Tennyson, Keats, dripping

from your tongue in a terminal bed. Mother, I said,

forty years from

the child in your arms. There are parts of you dead.

Bottle and Bible. Now this is pleasurable. Somewhere

on the other side of the night I am hearing you say

The fields are alive

when the moon is bowed. Your name is stirring

in the trees and is gone. No. Look what you’re doing.

Look at me now.


Laura Potts – Alma Mater

Widow-black and winter, evening took me south into

lamps burning blue in the dusk. Out and over my hometown musk

lay the hinterland hills breathing low in the dark. Still,

frostspark sharp on the city streets, holy rain sweet

in the winter and the wet, with no evening stars ahead I let

the pavement take me home. Through the town nocturnal, gloam


and grey, my chimney throat coughing its smoke, I saw aslope

on the city’s slow spine those old black gates, the summer of my days

inside. Grief cracked my face. Those navy girls and me, a pace

always ahead. But in the pale stairwell light the ghost of my girlhood dead

in its fresh green spring and gone. From roadside wet I looked on

at this child of light, her afterglow bright, her ashes of life


already black. The cold breath of loss on my face. At my back

a schoolbell cracked at the evening air. I saw Death at my table there

tipping his hat, and the years in my face that sank as I sat

at that desk at the back of the class. I remember that. And last,

on an old December evening, down hallways dark the wilting hymns

of girls turned ghosts before their time, I saw their eyes


like candles cold, like lights no longer leading home. Outside, to the bone

I shook and swung, the darkened seas that were my eyes done

and gone at the sight of myself. Each girl ringing her own passing bell.

Well, in that mist and half-dark morning, my face a clenching fist

in pavement pools, I saw that septic, terminal school

for what it was. No. I never went back, of course.


I tipped my compass north.

Laura Potts – The Night Country

‘The undiscovered country from whose bourn

No traveler returns’ – Hamlet.


Old winter hour, gloam and the glow

of this last evening fire, after the time

of the cold and away from my last-gasp

hourglass and this passing grey; after

the far-cast dust of my day when the half-

light fields breathe dark in the dusk,


from this terminal night and the drums

of Carthage rung in those my passing bells;

out in the darkland dells where the dead

lambs bleat, from the moorside wells

where the madmen sleep and the sun

does not tear into rooms anymore;

where no morning comes, and the lungs


of the hills rise black in the smoke. Oh,

glow of the land on the night’s far-side

where the lantern-light and the lightning

spine are the time of childhood alone,

yesterday’s echo in my broken-bell

throat, and the stardrop ponds where I

rocked and rolled and used to laugh

show a burnt and black-lipped Medusa.


Remember this last: that after the snap

of my hospital heart, that after the stars

in my eyes dim dark and the nightjars long

in my absence cry, I’ll take all of the feet

of the fields in my stride. Up and out

of the night country, with all of the valley’s

white rage at my back, I’ll tear up the forest,

the fire, the fog-fallen towers and flute-stem

flowers which rise through the cracks of these

churchyard bones. This home slows to black,


and I won’t look back.

Laura Potts – The Night That Robin Died

I remember it best as burnt lips and black

that night when the mouth of the house spat

you and your terminal news out to the stars

and back. Before the last evening hours

had passed, flame yielding life to the ember,

the crack of your ash called a duskdark September

too soon to its spring. It was the summer to never


remember. Robin, that radio screamed all the night

like your ambulance light living on and tight

was my wren-clenched flesh, was the glut

in my throat for you, lost-light bird never cut

from the cage. The age that was yours was the loudest

and long, but that old August day blew its dust

far on past those bones growing epigraph-grey:

a memento that death is just one storm away.


These days, one more last-light life blown out,

the heart in my body beats that much more loud.

Oh gallow-bound you with the ballroom grin,

for each crowd at your feet another rose out in

a mutual call, a language too dark for the masses

at all. That fall from the world, as springtime passes

its breath to the last, was the black blacker blackest


that my past has carried. After that passage, dusk folded

and wearied away, I stood at the gate summer-coated

to wait, watching your far-flaming ghostlight fade.

You never doubted the fire that flared, that made

you a light living on in that night. While bone-body dies

and we look to the stars bygone-bright in your eyes,

know only your laughter lit hearthstone and home.

Know yours is the name never lost from the stone


Laura Potts – Windy Ridge

Oh my, on Windy Ridge: the distant burst of bells and mist

still brings a rag of laughter where the scraps of you exist.

This the pastel-crag; the cliff that carved a Chaplin-grin,

remembered ever-infant far beyond this darkened wind.

And past the winter’s dripping chin, I glance at what once

must have been and which we never noted: the scythe of sun

upon the sky; the buzzard omen-throated; the sleeve of trees

that waved goodbye; and one more death for which to die.

Laura Potts – Yesterday’s Child

The sun slit a knife through the womb-wet night

and bled like an egg, like a budburst head:

in the swell of the sweat on the belly of the bed,

broken-throated then and red, you said

the clench of winter let the roses grow instead.


But time has fled with jenny wren and left

the meadow dead. And overhead a mouth of moon

has called the mourning on this room, and soon

an ever-bloom of moss will clot the loss of you.

For the years between us are wide as a child;


and the tears as wet as a wound.