Midwife to spirits, you call for water,
circle the chairs, position the planchette,
your fingers soft on old mahogany.

The grace of touch – oh, how we dead mourn that!
Even the nurse’s press on a cooling wrist,
the last gauging of a disappearance.

For all our half-heard noises, projections
flitting in shadowed stairwells, feather-slight
through spiral sunbeams in dust-mote hallways;

for all our flung plates and ventriloquy
ejected through startled mediums’ mouths,
what we long for most is simply to touch –

to lay vaporous hands on blooded skin,
to thrill to the beat of an urgent heart,
another life moving from now to then.

Such loving lost to us, trapped in limbo.
So we come, extending hands of cold air
and petrified longing, not to haunt folk

but to hug them when they’re sleeping, to wreathe
around them, slippery as the promise
of after-life, to run dry ice fingers

through earthy breath, to lie like arctic shrouds
on recumbent dreamers, troubled by their
temporary hurts and common desires,
so human, so finite, so visceral. 

Image credit:sw_reg_03



Marc Woodward is a poet whose work has been widely published in journals and anthologies, and a musician who has performed and taught internationally.

He has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and commended for the Aesthetica Award and the Acumen prize.

A New Yorker by accident of birth, he has been resident in rural Devon, England for a loooooong time.

Recent collections:

‘Fright of Jays’ published 2015 by Maquette Press;

’Hide Songs’  published 2018 by Green Bottle Press.

’The Tin Lodes’ (co-written with Andy Brown) published 2020 by Indigo Dreams Press.


‘Shaking the Persimmon Tree’ published in 4/2022 by Sea Crow Press.

‘Grace Notes’ a collection of music related poems written in collaboration with Andy Brown is due out from Sea Crow Press in 2023.

He can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwoodwardartist

and on twitter @marcomando or at www.marcwoodwardpoetry.blogspot.com