Poems in response to paintings by Vera Iliatova by Rachael Allen

All titles are taken from Vera’s paintings

Lunatic Urbaine
The man who loved me
pushed me to the ground
in a pool of white plants.
When we tell you to stop,
we whispered, you stop,
and the trees are above us
just knitting out the sky.
There’s nothing like a man
to serve you pain deep-seared
on a silver dish that rings
when you flick it, your table
gilded and festooned
with international meats,
cured and crusted, each
demanding its own sauce.
I ask to be taken home
but of course I am home,
so I turn my attention elsewhere.


Dilemma with Jane
Girls in long cotton socks
scatter on the hills or in the water
a cathedral of blue pinches
where they mock each other
and are watched through the trees.
The split branches of the trees
are the split branches of our legs
comingled polyester and bark.
We become unstoppable,
and stalk around the forest all night.
Ivy grows from the base of our spines
and men bang on the windows
lick the glass
in the hope they’ll see
our compromised positions
pigments of skin turning green.
One man leans in close
clutching a piglet
with hot piglet breath
he offers a palm, and we are
supine, blink our thanks,
trees that need their rest.


A girl’s body
the way they do things, unstable
like dolls or peptides,
a planet of fallen women
in pressed nice shirts
black crisp Mary Janes
smelling like oaks on the air
a band of tall, hot-summered oaks,
baked tawny in the summer
I don’t like it.


Simple Men
Underlit like a driveway, haunted and beech-lined,
obtuse crevices, attention seeking
damaged with names they’re unforgivably given.
Deep, apoplectic Daniel, who hides in the wood
sad about a failing relationship with his mother.
For a laugh I told him he was adopted,
brother Daniel, and he beat me to a pulp.


Volcano in Russia
A bleak and ferrous opening in the sky
a wound the kind that rots to black
rumbling apart, a doctored element of cloud.

Beneath that, a geography observed from a ship
an old great state at the base of an eruption
where only girls lived, carbuncled in dust
caught mid play and mid-menses, long arms
chastising or rubbing filth on themselves, arched
over desks and on the swings, illicitly being.


The Girls of Situations
Scattered through woods
running over roots
they flicker through the trees
like how a zoetrope ticks
in spaghetti tops all warm.
Roaming inimitable ways
on the roadsides
or the path through a moor
that flashes pale at night
the gorse inching up
the way a body inches up
seductive like a crone
ready to be blamed.
The girl has come hither eyes
so does the tree.
They travel in groups and
pleasure each other on the
low steaming marsh.
We aren’t held in gold frames.
By the end they run away
gently knocking into each other
leaving yellow smells
the grace of an armpit
we never see them again.