Maria Isakova Bennett

Submerged Forest at Hightown & In the Company of Strangers

Maria Isakova Bennett

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Submerged Forest at Hightown

You check the beach is deserted

strip to your underwear

and lie like a star on top of branches –

their sharp edges cutting

into the flesh of your thighs.

A slight movement softens the clay sand

to slip beneath your skin.

You are part of this, your body pressed

against thousands of years

You stroke saturated gutweed

and catch sight of tufted grasses,

knotted blades, a flint arrowhead.


In the Company of Strangers

While you’re not here

I run a gauntlet of barbed wire music

to reach the pub.

A wave of girls on six inch heels

sweeps me aside to order vodka-lemos,

and slump at the bar, gold sequins

flirting curves. There’s banter

from the men until they huddle

for a Premier League post-mortem.


Flashing disco lights

on the left side of his face and the way

he leans toward me makes me lean too –

he tells me about his new home in the Antrim Glens

how he loves the city but was glad to move,

clicks through photos on his phone:

Glenarif smudged in mist,

Glenarm frosted, perspiring snow.


He relives his accident,

the business he built up and flattened.

I had a lot to make up for, he says,

about leaving the seminary –

Only two boys out of sixty became priests.


We snatch at words from radio reports;

he knows the news behind the headlines.

As he turns the final pages of his story –

I watch lights grazing empty glasses

and catch a sidelong glimpse of you


standing where the Irish Sea

scallops the sand at Crosby beach,

where the sky’s a torn paper collage –

where the stones shush as the tide strolls in,

and where I wait for your opening lines.


Maria Isakova Bennett


Maria lives and works in Liverpool, her poetry and reviews have been published widely in, amongst others, Bare Fiction, Tears in the Fence, Crannog, Envoi, Southword, Orbis, The Interpreter's House, and Manchester Review.

She has been highly commended in the Gregory O’ Donoghue Poetry Competition, shortlisted in the Munster Literature Chapbook Competition, and awarded first prize in the Ver Open Competition judged by Clare Pollard in 2014.

This year Maria has been shortlisted and placed in several Poetry Competitions. Maria collaborates with poet Michael Brown on projects in galleries on Merseyside.