Three poems by Sarah Barr




The house dreams of white doves on its roof,

remembers a time of coal fires in hearths,


old people in cotton hats under apple trees,

a girl who yanks open sash windows,


shouts, and acts funny plays on the terrace.

The house, too, longs to be an actor.


At night, it sinks deeper into itself –

shifting to clay, trees, slate, and water.


The girl dreams of flying from a bridge

over a ruined house she once saw


as she walked her dog across the moors.

A few atoms in her cells remember


a time before houses, birds, and even earth

as she spins dreaming into space, the universe.





She’d heard enough of the argument and how

whether frozen, fresh or shelled, it was

impossible to find a succulent prawn.


Now they were tangled in chopped lettuce.

She couldn’t resist dipping her finger in

to suck the sweet Marie-Rose sauce.


Like a jilted girlfriend or abandoned baby,

an extra prawn hung over the rim

of each glass bowl on its skinny stem.


Her mother said the dinner would be a disaster,

Chicken Kiev with its whiff of ‘The Spy Who

Came in From the Cold’ gave the wrong message


and the Gateau Mont Blanc reminded her

of the time he went away on business.

‘Business?’ her mother screamed along the landing.


There was a ring-ring at the door,

and she wondered if they’d stop shouting upstairs.

She took each prawn from its perch and swallowed –


they were salty, plump and a little crunchy –

just as her mother appeared smiling, and wearing

stiletto heels and a green satin dress.






The leaning apple tree

is still as high

as the upstairs window.


Saved from the builders,

now it repays


with sharp, unnamed fruit

we pick with claw and net

on a long pole.


A woodpecker delves

into the crumbling trunk.


Unless we remember to tie

round the green band


moth caterpillars crawl up

to gorge themselves.


On summer nights

apples thud an erratic beat

on grass and stone.


A dark shadow keeps growing

and sucking the branches.


We were going to pull down

the clump but there seemed


little point in mistletoe

in the hall this Christmas.


If the tree falls

we’ll chop its wood

to warm us in the cold.





Sarah Barr writes poetry and fiction, and her writing is published in a wide range of anthologies, magazines and newspaper. She lives in Dorset with her husband and loves walking along the coast. Her short poetry collection, ‘January’, was published by Maytree Press in 2020. Among the prizes won by her poems are first in the Frogmore Poetry Prize 2015 and the National Memory Day poetry competition 2018, and placed in the Bridport Prize 2010 and 2016. Sarah often writes about relationships and has particular interest in psychological, social and environmental issues. Her poem, ‘Swans on the Vltava River’, appeared in MIR the Climate Issue 2019.

9 June 2021