Free Dive 


by Alice Hill-Woods


The sea holds elkhorn coral 

which looks like bronchiole, 

ferny, anchored to the deep. 

My chest feels the strained polyps 

when I’m running for the bus, 

tangled kelpie on thin lines. 

I felt that I was also turning blue 

during the asthma attack 

the dust and swell 

the forced retreat 

wishing for a hinge of day to catch 

in my jaw, 

seeing the minutes collapse in sand.

I have held fear in my trachea 

for too long.             Now I let the surges come

and wash rhythm across my pleura,

sink the compression, turn my gills

to the abyss for slow strive  

                                 towards invincible. 

Hear my soft, elongated song in the bath

rush under the tap 

as I hold                   then release.

Alice Hill-Woods is a poet who grew up between Nottingham, UK, and various parts of South Africa. She’s currently based in Glasgow, and is the author of HOTHOUSE (Salò Press, 2021). Alice is in the final stages of her MA in Medical History and Humanities at the University of York, where she is supported by a Wellcome Trust scholarship. She holds an MA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Glasgow, and she is the Poetry and Nonfiction Editor at SPAM Press.

Twitter @aliceasapoet
Instagram @alice35mm