Cleopatra’s Needling by Karen Ridley

Photo by Tadeu Jnr on Unsplash

Age shall not wither her I think someone said. 
Well, that was a bloody lie for starters; 
I wither like a plant in a winter bed. 

Now gnarly hands twist like roots around my head, 
where fingers once played music on myriad lovers. 
Age shall not wither her I think someone said. 

In memories I dance, I move with grace he said. 
A tortoise: I totter, I twist, I tumble, 
I wither like a plant in a winter bed. 

I wither and fade and change and drift and lose my head 
My skin hangs from bones like damp rags on rocks. 
Age shall not wither her I think someone said. 

It would all just be fine if I could just keep my thread 
force the thoughts straight as lines, not swirls but still
I wither like a plant in a winter bed. 

Grey threads curl, an iron crown upon my head,
the darkness is welcome when it comes, no fight.
Age shall not wither her I think someone said, 
I wither like a plant in a winter bed.

This post is brought to you by
The Odds Against a Starry Cosmos
 by Abby Bland


The Odds Against a Starry Cosmos explores the intimacy of human relationship and growth against the backdrop of the natural world, moving through moments of grace, brokenness, and wonder.

Published by Perennial Press

About The Author

Like many English teachers, Karen never had time to write, so signed up for a creative writing course at Goldsmith’s to force her own hand. She is a teacher, single mum, and a volunteer mentor. Karen read English Literature at University of Wales, Lampeter where she made a mediocre impression, and her plans for a meteoric career in journalism were abandoned after a brief stint of work experience at the Daily Mail. After some false starts, she somehow made a career in marketing only to inexplicably decide a decent salary, 9-5 hours, holidays on a whim, generous bonuses and secure retirement should be exchanged for a shockingly poor work-life balance, unhealthy amounts of debt and weekends of marking, interspersed with random attempts at parenting. ‘Cleopatra’s Needling’ emerged from various conversations about ageing, dementia, the menopause and loss – all cheerful Zoom wine night topics mid global pandemic. Karen’s writing is grounded in personal experiences and influenced by those around her, but don’t tell them that.

Bandit Fiction is an entirely not-for-profit organisation ran by passionate volunteers. We do our best to keep costs low, but we rely on the support of our readers and followers to be able to do what we do. The best way to support us is by purchasing one of our back issues. All issues are ‘pay what you want’, and all money goes directly towards paying operational costs.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s