2023 Frontier OPEN Finalist: The Ballad of Aisle Three by Amy Wolstenholme

Join us in celebrating this poem by Amy Wolstenholme, one of our finalists of the 2023 Frontier OPEN!

Please stay tuned as we publish the rest of the finalists throughout the month of December.

The Ballad of Aisle Three

I like to hear the folk in Sainsbury’s say “cold, innit” “yeah” as their coats kiss in the liquor aisle never to meet again, “cold, innit” [when I walked down the street earlier the wind might have been a knife] And I’m thinking knife isn’t an original metaphor, knives don’t glissade down your throat [might have been a knife, did you feel it] “yeah” [I was there, I felt it], their coat buttons chink like champagne glasses, and I like to hear them say “cold, innit” [when I walked down the street it was artic] And I’m thinking man you’ve never been anywhere near [sub-zero wind, the artic wind] “yeah” [I felt it, heard it, knife in the throat, knife in the ear, I was listening], their coats black-blue like a bruise, dusted with snow, and the two old folk are saying “cold, innit” “yeah” though I don’t know who said what, they were behind me, my hand on a bottle [when I walked down the street I was cold, the wind a tired, dead soul muttering something] And I’m thinking I suppose all the leaves were ghosts, or better yet corpses [the sky was grey and soulless, grey and dead] “yeah” [I saw the sky like an autopsy, I felt the scalpel of the wind] their hands are touching and my arms are cradling wine like a child, And I’m thinking those poor old souls “cold, innit” “yeah” probably their only social interaction today, their coats snogging by the Foster’s and they’re affirming [when I walked down the street it was so cold, the wind was stabbing, I’m afraid of being tired and dead, am I still in the universe] “yeah” [I felt it, I’m still in this old body and I felt it], their coats are waltzing down the aisle like stars rocket-fired out of a galaxy, And I’m thinking Christ I’m tired and young and cold, and God I could drink, and they’re saying to each other “cold, innit” “yeah” somewhere in the abyss behind me, or maybe they’ve left already clutching hands but I want to hear them say it again “cold, innit” [here I am a human being, walking down a street, perceiving it to be cold] “yeah” [here I am, another human being, also walking down the street, also perceiving it to be cold] and their coats look beautiful and warm and post-card dusted with snow, And I’m thinking what does it mean when they say cold does it mean barely alive or nearly dead and they’re saying “cold, innit” “yeah” and cackling like the wind, And I’m thinking I’ll just crack the top of this because I’m cold as a street and there’s no one around to say otherwise, just a sip because I’m cold or maybe dead and there’s no one around to say otherwise, And I’m thinking the hottest thing for miles is the two coats fucking in aisle three, [“is it not cold”], [will no one say “yes” “yes” “yes” to me.]

Amy Wolstenholme

Amy Wolstenholme is a scientist by day and poet by night, originally from the beautiful Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England. Her recent works can be found in Magma Poetry, Perhappened and in several places on the Young Poets Network. She is a National Poetry Competition Longlistee (2021) and also recently performed her poetry in Guildhall, London as part of the Symposium for Peace. Twitter handle: @AmyWolstenholm3.

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