Postcards from Malthusia DAY THIRTY-ONE: Jacqueline Saphra


8th April

“They tell us coronavirus is a great leveller. It’s not. It’s much much harder if you’re poor.”;  (Emily Maitlis, BBC Newsnight)


A mist has settled on the Thames, the air

is clearer than it’s been for years. Inhale.

Who knew that breath could be so beautiful?

The stillness rings like something pure,

a gown of water shimmers on the shore,

I pause to hold this heaven; then the pull

of change upstream: tuneless bell

of piling rigs, the underbelly of the river

laid open, her hidden darknesses given

to the poetry of super-sewer,

unromantic, necessary; human waste

and wastage managed by imported men,

the unsung heroes of our sunken age,

taking their chances for a living wage.



Jacqueline Saphra‘s second collection, All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize 2017. Dad, Remember You are Dead was out from Nine Arches Press in 2019. Her book of sonnets, A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller will be followed by Veritas: Poems after Artemisia (May 2020), both published by Hercules Editions. She is currently writing a sonnet a day for Corona.

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