Two Poems By: Sophie Collins

This week's new writing once again takes the shape of poetry and comes to us from Sophie Collins - poet, co-founder and co-editor of tender


Andre is done for.

A girl dates back to arms.

I’m not saying they bother me

or ‘men are my future’,

merely how hard this has been.


Hans Ulrich Obrist throws bread to the swans in the Royal Park of Kensington Gardens

in central London. It’s early morning. The bread isn’t stale. The swans are not

white; they are grey-brown. One of the swans is sitting a good distance away from the

main body of the group. It’s darker or dirtier than the rest and shows no interest in the
bread. Its eyes are closed and its neck is bent at an angle that allows it to rest its head

on its back. Hans Ulrich Obrist approaches the swan.

As he gets close, the swan opens its eyes and lifts its head. Its neck sways and it lets

out a rasp from its grey beak. Hans Ulrich Obrist takes a slice of bread from the bag

and tears out a small piece with no crusts, tossing it directly in front of the swan. The

swan ignores the bread, but the rest of the group swarms over, trampling the crustless

piece and nipping at the bag in Hans Ulrich Obrist’s hands. The swan looks resigned.

It tries to reposition its head on its back but misses and lays it on the tarmac instead. It

closes its eyes. Hans Ulrich Obrist turns and leaves the pond area.

That evening, he is unable to sleep, and the following morning he wakes

uncharacteristically late, at 10:47 AM, to a series of emails and one missed call from the

team at the gallery. He postpones responding and gets dressed. He walks to the park and

alerts the warden to the sick swan. He feels no sense of immediate relief but finds that

he is once again able to focus on other things. When he visits the pond area again two

days later, the sick swan is gone, and he senses that it has been euthanised. The

crustless piece of bread is still partially visible, specked with dirt and embedded in the

tarmac. It doesn’t at all resemble the unmistakable image of Mary Immaculate, mother

of Jesus. A light snow does not begin to fall.

Sophie Collins is co-founder of tender, an online quarterly promoting work by female-identified writers and artists. Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Poetry London and Oxford Poetry.

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