“Animals are in Communion” and other poems by Polly Roberts

Animals are in Communion


I came home

to find him

doing nothing.

Limp armed.

Could do nothing.

Sat on the sofa

lost to the world.

I have some bad news


I’ve been seeing ghosts. Birds on water.


The day before I received the news, two swans flew low over my head. Their
wings thrummed like a helicopter.

Eyes turned to watch the rescue vehicle, and instead saw white bellies.
The sound travelled, nothing like their usual flapping, as they soared over and onto water.

Returning to my boat, a shadow shifted on the river bank. A furry creature – small, sleek – edged
its way through the grass, took a moment to drink, then slop, slipped in.


Animals are in communion for you.

As are we,

nosing each other’s armpits

as we bed in

for warm companionship.

Because you went cold.


Though the civility of civilisation frightens me, I visit somewhere populated.
A graveyard made squirrel territory. One squirrel for every gravestone.
They mount lichen-covered peaks and keep lookout.
They claim the trees, the abandoned church.
Nobody will make them leave.

That night, I dreamt the answer to the universe.
It was blue,
inside a conch shell. Spiraling
in and out of crystal moments.
Eggshell blue.
In and out of images of the hospital bed,
and these dreams.


Animals are in Communion and other poems are © Polly Roberts

Polly Roberts grew up in Devon. Three years studying Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia left her with an inextricable link to the landscape, compelling her to continue to write about the creatures and habitats encountered there.

Observations of both the non-human and human world continued whilst living on a houseboat on the River Avon near Bristol while completing her MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Polly has run creative writing workshops for refugees, detainees, and young people and curated two exhibitions in response to her writing, both displayed at the Norwich Arts Centre.

In 2018, the British Council awarded Polly a Writers by Nature scholarship, during which she wrote this debut poetry collection, Grieving with the Animals.( 2019, Dempsey and Windle)

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