ReBecca Varley-Winter

The Succubus

Succubus woke, yawned,
clacked to the kitchen (her bird-claws tapping the floor)
to sip mourning tea. She was bored of vamping,
her feet bare, mouth ordinary-pink, horns half-hidden.
She ate bread and honey, scrolled through the news
footage of a policeman beating a woman –
they struck the pose of aggression and submission.
How those angels dogged her. Pious police.
She frowned, moved to the freezer, drew out a translucent bag
that looked much like frozen milk,
patted it lightly, carried it carefully
through the door, down the street, to the fertility clinic
where she exchanged it for a single ruby.
As she left, she wondered at the black market: human seed
is not hard to come by
, she thought, monstrously.
Whoever created me – made me thief without cause.
She watched the ducks on the still pond
and contemplated the mystery.
Frogs humped in muddy ditches, and ants clutched each other in flight
like clumsy ice skaters; only she was judged. The judgment fell on her
like ham – it was hammy. They called her vagina a cave of ice
which, she thought, was pretty cold,
but when they summoned her in sleep, their souls padded from their mouths
as cats in heat, and she came to their call, rose in cascades of violet flames
and molten glass over them, her tail tipped with paraffin.
By day they cursed her through their teeth
but in their dreams, they were sweet as hay meadows
and their fevers moved her then, their heartbeats against her own
like small cymbals going tss tss tss.


for Alia

You wake on the ward
full of fugitive lights, breaths and cries
soft as a bruised nectarine,
speechless as a newborn
pulled back from another dimension,
its lens flaring.
Yesterday, snow dusted London;
now the snowmen lie on their sides
like toppled pawns surrendering.
Your limbs warming
beneath a black corona of curls
you say, who can I love today?
and my dead-headed roses
grow new lime-bright shoots
in the depths of winter,
hot pink petals,
minute, twining spines.

Rebecca Varley-Winter's debut poetry pamphlet, Heroines (on the Blue Peninsula), will be published by V. Press in 2019. Twitter: @rvarleywinter