DAY EIGHTY-FOUR – Claire Askew

Yarl’s Wood Moon

“Just outside the window is a courtyard with a mural showing cows and sheep grinning, as a farmer drives his tractor over the hill to a distant purple horizon. But these are illusions. The wall is high. The cameras stare down. The way to the outside world is blocked, several times over.”  (The Independent)


Moon: cooked down like rice by lights that never go out.
Moths making radio static, interference the stars
can’t get through.  Just that moon.  Shabby button
wearing its darkness, like everyone here — our difference
a plexiglass screen, and behind it, our moon-white guards.

Looking up at any moon is like looking down from a plane:
a dark sea that’s almost familiar, an island whose one port
is a crescent of light, dirt street by the water,
place any one of us might have lived.

There’s no sun.  The blinds are drawn so everyone
can see the face of the TV man, the one in charge
as he says you’ve got to appreciate and this
is a complex problem we’re working on:
words that sound learned by heart.

While he works, we’re counting: up to nearly one hundred
moons.  One moon cut like an onion by wires; two puddle-moons
a night-stick broke; three moons trudging the perimeter
where nothing moves.  He mouths those lines many times,
blushing his blood-moon face, like a proud child.



Claire Askew’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Guardian, The Feminist Wire, Mslexia and PANK. Her work has also been widely anthologised, most recently in Furies: an anthology of women warriors (For Books’ Sake, 2014) and Hallelujah for 50ft Women: poems about women’s relationship with their bodies (Bloodaxe, 2015). Claire is the author of pamphlet collection, The Mermaid and the Sailors (Red Squirrel Press, 2011), and her debut full-length collection, This changes things is forthcoming from Bloodaxe in early 2016. Her poems have been recognised by the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition (2014), the Charles Causley Poetry Prize (2014), and the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award (2014), among others. Claire works as a tutor and groupwork facilitator for hire, and blogs at


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