Friday Poem – ‘The Leech House’ by Rhiannon Hooson


This week’s Friday Poem is ‘The Leech House’ by Rhiannon Hooson from her forthcoming collection Goliat.

This cover shows a ghost-like figure wrapped in a sheet standing in a field at dusk. The text reads: Goliat Rhiannon Hooson

Goliat is the second collection by Rhiannon Hooson, a follow-up to her Wales Book of the Year nominated debut, The Other City. An intelligent and beautiful book, Goliat offers absorbing stories of a precarious world on the brink of climate emergency. Employing startling imagery and a deep sense of history, these poems explore the irreplaceable beauty of a wild world, and the terrible damage that humans might do to each other and the earth.

The Leech House
She says he is older than me. I think it is a lie,
but in his tank (round, like a chalice), he moves
like an eel; he moves like a dream. Come winter
someone must stoke the fire in the leech house,
bring fresh moss, sweep out the channel in the floor
where the river sends its emissary, while behind their glass
the leeches dance. My lady has me mark on little labels
when each leech has last been fed: a leech
can live a year without blood, but each dark moon
when the fever comes for her, he lies across her calf,
or sometimes the smooth warm skin at the crook
of her elbow. I scrub his tank clean while he is out of it.
She says a leech is her true companion: the only thing
that knows blood as well as a woman. Is it strange
she has a favourite? Fresh earth for him, and cold clean
water, and green pond moss. I do not like to look
when he is feeding, but she smiles, and it is relief
in her face, not fondness, as if as he drank he took from her
the knowledge of a thing so painful she could not bear
to know it.

Goliat is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Join us at 7:30pm at Chapter in Cardiff on National Poetry Day Thursday 6th October to see Rhiannon launch Goliat at Seren First Thursday alongside Hilary Llewellyn-Williams. If you can’t join us in person, we’re also streaming via Facebook live. Find the details on our website.

Seren First Thursday October. Hilary Llewellyn-Williams and Rhiannon Hooson. In person and streamed online. Thursday 6 October 7:30pm BST. Tickets £3 on the door or watch live on Facebook for free.
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