Clew by Bernadette McAloon


by Bernadette McAloon



It turns out you can get lost anywhere.
English garden, broad daylight,
walk into a maze;
find yourself, midlife,
circling your childhood years.
An improbable spool of wool
riddling the branches of a cedar
could be considered a clue:
Minos, dance, Ariadne, bull.
You might assume you know
where this yarn begins
and ends. Spinning,
you could turn back.
Unravelling, you might think again.


Of course I know there are places
a girl shouldn’t go.
But on nights like this
I can’t resist spinning a line
past the abbess,
her head pure as an orchid
growing from a worn-out habit.
And yes, I know
a girl should never
present at altar,
hands open and human,
hooves visible and cloven
beneath the red rag of her dress.


Bernadette McAloon was born in County Durham. Her poems have appeared in various online and print publications. She has been placed as runner up in the Mslexia poetry competition and winner of the Vorse Scribben Basil Bunting Award. She is currently a PhD researcher at Newcastle University. For the last fifteen years she has worked as a children’s therapist in educational and social care contexts.

Bernadette McAloon is the winner of the 2016 Flambard Poetry Prize. An anthology featuring more poems by 2016’s prizewinners is available here.