A woman, red-hood eyes,

all wrong with life, 

walks across a bridge.


Flint etched cliffs behind,

mud banks below

hold stories in their sticky veins.


The Downs, alive with lovers.

Perhaps, she thinks, mine is there too.

His letter scorches her hand.


Gas lamps not yet lit,

chunter of factory –

shipbuilding, tobacco, cotton –

whistle and creak of railroad and dock.


She's left home, three to a room,

her job as barmaid.

No more Rising Suns.

Her dreams died with that letter.


On the bridge, she's begun to talk to dead friends –

from smallpox,

in child birth,

caught up in fights –

as if they might bring comfort.


Her heart troubles with its changing pace.


By evening, she's climbed the railings,

teetering on the parapet.

Before anyone can reach her,

she throws herself off.


Sky fills her crinoline skirt,

flies her crow-boned

to unwanted safety:

those mud banks below

with their sticky veins, their stories.


Belinda Rimmer is interested in writing for performance, and increasingly works with children and young people. This poem, Crow, is  Belinda's re-imagining of the Bristol legend of Sarah Ann Henley. 

Belinda gained a PhD in Women's Voices in Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2007, and since then has held Artist in Residence roles and led arts projects for various universities and councils. Read more of Belinda's poems here,