Night lights, by Helen Scadding

Joint fourth prize in our 2022 Open Competition was awarded to Helen Scadding’s Night lights.

Night lights

Moths hold the underside of leaves
wrapped in nettles waiting for the light,
‘til tiny tapestries of wings begin to flicker on the lawn,
crowding windows, tapping glass all night.

Below the fire-exit lights our daughters
breathe out smoke, flick hot ash with bitten nails,
walk home fast in flat black shoes,
the last shift of the night.

Blue screens hum with heat,
their hard drives filled, then wiped
of applications, or supplications,
while all the rules change overnight.

We underestimate the damage clever men can do
with whisky glasses glinting on the baize
in chandeliered rooms, where lies are edited and stacked
in piles left cooling in the night.

If only I could be with you again, I would,
in our caravan’s drop-down bed,
watching oak leaves fall across the estuary
and the orange curtains fly into the night.

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