‘Still Life With Hedgehog’ and other poems by Gaynor Kane

Still life with hedgehog

The items have been arranged;
carefully positioned, to vary height
with texture and tone. Lit from the left.

But what the artist hadn’t bargained for
was that the sleeping urchin would unfurl;
spine straightening, light-tipped quills oblique.

To nimbly negotiate the spray of red roses,
and feast on wedge of watermelon.
White table linen turning light pink.



Oh, dark one!
I see shadows staring back
reflected in an ebony pond,
a black iris
smooth and shining.

Do we see differently?
Is your world in sepia,
or monochrome,
or technicolour?
Have you lost hope in humanity?

I stroll through the golden field,
seeded grass
swishes against skin.
You follow,
echoing my gait.

Under a shaft of sunlight
we stop – still.
our breathing
become synchronised.

Taste the mist of
our exhalation
merging in the stillness
of us
muzzles almost nuzzling.

But you are looking
down on me
and I wonder
if your power
will be my undoing.

I reach to touch your cheek.
The spell is broken
you rear up whinnying;
gallop off like a thunderbolt
leaving me in a cloud of humility.
First published in Visual Verse, Volume 3, Chapter 11 (https://visualverse.org/submissions/abraxas/)


Recipe for the scent of you

In memory of Winnie McCutcheon
Add two parts Sunlight soap
and one part Brasso or Vim
(depending on the day)
to Yardley Lily of the Valley.
Beat with vigour, wearing a floral pinafore
fold in chocolate and desiccated coconut
cut into squares – your signature traybake.
Top with a dusting of pressed powder
and cherry-red Max Factor lipstick.



Our affair
lasted six months.
Meeting out the back
in a portacabin
hidden away
from village stares.
I remember
the mustard curtains
but not your face.
You asked me
the same questions.
repeating them
in monotone
so as not to influence my answer.
And on a scale
of one to ten,
I learnt how
to tell you
what you wanted to hear.
First published in the Community Arts Partnership Poetry in Motion 2016-17 Anthology ‘Matter’


Princess of Eiderdown

for my Nieces

In your first Winter,
I guide you into a king-size
ocean; you ride the crest
of the wave, along its middle,
waft a white muslin sail,
laughing at the breeze.
Smiling in a yellow dress,
golden hair radiant,
you are the sun
on my horizon.

Just as I think you are going
to pronounce yourself
‘Princess of Eiderdown’,
in your babbled tongue,
you discover my hand.
Our eyes connect briefly,
and although we have
different bloodlines, I know
we are bound together,
until the vanishing point.

You reach over, clutch
my finger in your tiny
hand, squeeze tight,
strengthen our connection.
Then with the nail,
of your pointing finger,
you pensively pick at the
white moon, rising
from my cuticle;
exploring life’s mysteries.



The sign of infinity bows my breasts;
I tie them up, bind them tight, flat.

Conceal my sex, and the years,
the rebirths – always a girl.

Living with simple putdowns
or the terror of toileting at dusk.

In this life, I will walk barefoot
to the holy Ganges and bathe

in polluted waters. Make
sacrifices to end the cycle.



Danced through the dusk of the ‘50s
into the dawn of the ‘60s
across the decks of three sister ships.

Mitred and dovetailed joints,
trimmed trusses to the beat
of the Shipyard’s percussion.

Dreamed of sailing transatlantic
in the pure white bosom
of RMS Amazon, Aragon, Arlanza.

Still Life With Hedgehog and other poems are © Gaynor Kane

Gaynor Kane is a graduate of the Open University, with a BA (Hons) Humanities with Literature. She has had poetry published in the Community Arts Partnership’s ‘Poetry in Motion’ anthology Matter and in online journals, such as: Atrium Poetry, The Galway Review and The Blue Nib. In 2016, Gaynor was a finalist in the annual Funeral Services NI poetry competition. In June 2017, she was appointed as a member of the Executive Board for Women Aloud NI. Founded by Jane Talbot, Women Aloud aims to support female writers from, and/or living in, Northern Ireland.

Image: John Quinton Pringle ‘Still Life with the head of Dante’ (Wiki Commons)

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