J V Birch


That in-between, when I wake while I’m sleeping

in the room I know—the neat blinds belittling morning,


the distressed drawers we bought, the ceiling ghosting

with sheets, the tight blue of our carpet—with a presence


in the room that’s not you. I hear you in the kitchen

making espresso as something slides into bed with me.


I can’t move, feel a thunder inside, a fear I’ve known

but have never seen. There’s a breathing that isn’t mine,


a thing reaching that isn’t human, I remember something

and then don’t. I try to scream and the moment presses


in, believe I’m scrabbling but I’m not, snap awake to my whine

like a broken toy bear, pinned in the position I left, the bed


empty and you, in the doorway, asking what’s wrong.



J V Birch J V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have been published in Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has three chapbooks with Ginninderra Press and a full-length collection, more than here. She blogs at