Two Poems | Emily Berry | Granta

Two Poems

Emily Berry

Dream of a Dog

My life, and all our lives, I said sleepily,
so soft now, like the neck of a sleeping dog,
I lay my hand on it, as you have lain your hand
on mine (on my life), this tenderly, as the dog
noses deeper into sleep, as she sighs the way
a dreaming dog does, I wish my life was in
your dream, dog, I think it is, and she turns
onto her back so her stomach rises pale and
softly furred, and your words are travelling
through me, or, no, they travel over me, the
way a breeze makes fabric touch us, the fabric
of half-drawn curtains billowing from an open
window, as I pass and glance out on such
a day, the dog whimpering softly in sleep;
perhaps it’s that you say I should have faith,
or that you have faith, in increments, while
my shoes are nosing through leaves and the
dog is alert or disappears (but she comes back),
if I had a dog she would be a kind of faith,
I would lift her onto my shoulder, the points
of her ears very elfin and her face, serious,
tilted to regard you, she would listen and run
and then, from a distance, up a slight incline,
when I call her, look back, then run on,
and I do believe in increments, as when
the dog brings me, in her dream, pinecones,
when she wriggles in my arms, her ribcage
strung like an archer’s bow, when her paws
bend at the wrist in supplication, I do not see
the slow wheels in my blood turning, but
I ride them, I do not see what I know
and everything beneath that, which I may
come to know, or may not, the slow slow
discernment of the deep layer, air bubbles
rising from the dead zone, the dog in her
dream talismanic on a hilltop, the soft tips
of her ears in sleep, a slight sigh, all my life.





Bad Stone

One summer I bought a pale green stone
from a crystal shop, carefully selecting it
from a number of almost identical stones
because this one most attracted my
attention. I deliberately waited and watched
the stones, to see which one would call to
me. But shortly after I took the crystal home
I became convinced that it was possessed by
a bad energy. I believed the stone was
haunted. The bad energy was such that I kept
the stone hidden in a drawer for a long time
until I decided this was not effective and
brought it out again. I thought I could throw
it away, but I could not. I thought I could cast
it into a lake, or place it ceremoniously
somewhere in nature, such as in the lap of a
tree, or among pebbles at the edge of a
stream, where whatever was troubling the
stone could flow away into the earth. I
thought I could take it to a cemetery and set
it on a significant gravestone, or leave it on
the steps of a church. But I could not bring
myself to do any of these things. I discovered
that such stones could be washed in the light
of a full moon, and so I placed it, one night,
on a window ledge. The full moon came and
went and by all rights the crystal should have
been purified, but my sense of its badness
did not lessen, if anything it got stronger,
when I thought of the stone it was a small
burning place in my mind, either so cold it
was hot, or so hot it was cold, I was pierced
by the stone the way mothers of newborn
babies are said to be pierced by their cries. I
left it in the spot where it had taken its full-
moon bath, and where it would go on to be
bathed nightly at every stage of the moon’s
cycle for many months. During this time
there were several storms and I began to
hope that a strong gale would dislodge the
stone and it would fall and be lost in the
gardens below, never to be encountered
again, that the impact of the fall might knock
the badness out of it, that it would dissipate
in air, but none of this happened, the stone
stood firm. I hardly ever saw it, in its place on
the window ledge it was outside, out of sight,
at the furthest margins of my home,
sometimes weeks would pass when I didn’t
think of it, but then, without warning, when
I was brushing away a cobweb that had
formed in the corner of the windowframe, or
wiping a wet cloth along the sill, I would
catch sight of the stone through the glass, it
was round and smooth and could fit
perfectly in the centre of my palm, though I
had not held it for a long time, possibly I
would never hold it again, such was my fear
of its badness. Increasingly the stone looked
clouded, like an eye losing sight, and it had a
faint grey vein becoming, I felt sure, more
pronounced, as if it was old and tired of
enduring the dark nights and the squeaking
of bats and the cold and the rain and the
moon’s relentless phases and its
sanctimonious light and my refusal to claim
what belonged to me.


Emily Berry

Emily Berry is the author of three poetry books published by Faber: Unexhausted Time (2022), Stranger, Baby (2017) and Dear Boy (2013). Her lyric essay, 'The Secret Country of Her Mind' appears in the artist's book Many Nights (2021) by Jacqui Kenny.

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