Emma Must

Three Poems by Emma Must

Emma Must

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Different Planets

There are telescopes on the lawns at Queen’s.
Each angled lens is trained on Jupiter.
Tonight it hasn’t rained; through the aperture
you can make out all four Galilean moons.
William, age ten, explains on-camera
how the atmosphere gets whipped by winds
into narrow segregated bands.
That other world is wracked by ancient storms.

I flick between channels with the remote.
Across town cops with plastic shields deflect
incoming comets unleashed from the Oort Cloud.
Kids are doing astrophysics, lobbing
golf balls, fireworks, half-bricks, petrol bombs.
Their trajectories are wobbling.


Sick of looking into myself
that long cold spring, I sought them out:
tied to one another in a transept of the Palm House.
What pulled me in were their heads and faces pooling
behind glass, but what kept me coming back
was that smell so sweet and strong, contained
within their pod of angled air and iron,
that when I’d bend to turn the smooth brass knob

then shut the heavy door behind me
I would be taken back to the last time
I had done these things and the time
before and the time before, so day
in turn reflected day and day and day
though each was nothing but itself.

Belfast Pastoral

Summer has come early. Our Golden Age is now.
As I walk to Tomb Street to fetch a book from Amazon
in a cardigan as yellow as the dockyard cranes,
everything is golden: No Parking At Any Time
on a garage door, Urban Clearway signs,
grit containers angry at their own obsolescence.
There’s more besides: the fries in a KFC Ready Meal,
The Money Shop, the Way on the end of Sub.

The parks are full. The Botanic Gardens over-brims
with a festival of legs and arms, everybody
sunning themselves on spread-out coats.
We lick Twisters and, more of a mouthful,
Rowntrees Fruit Pastille Lollies. We talk poems.
And this is no longer the city you’ve read about. 

Emma Must

Emma Must lives in Belfast where she is studying for a PhD in the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University. She’s actually from Hampshire, though she sometimes says she is from the Isle of Wight. A frequent contributor to Abridged, she has also had poems published in Poetry and Audience, Butcher’s Dog and The Open Ear. In 2013 she won second prize in the Strokestown International Poetry Awards, and read with Michael Longley at the Ulster Museum. Image courtesy of Malachi O'Doherty.