Tessa Berring

Embrace Me


Skin is wipe clean

and my jeans fit well


and once I wrote


about my dream

with men in it


all cotton wool heads!


I chopped them off

of course


which was bloody

like tampons


and my hands stank

of dead petunia.


It was a good story

nuanced and delicate


someone said


though they might not

have meant it.


It's a relief about skin

being easy to wipe


and it's good having jeans

all over my legs.


I like lean words

you know, like 'spirit'


and lightly placed

unspeakable things.






When I wake I sometimes

catch a scent of myself


sweat and hard butter


and I sometimes

buy liquorice cigarette papers


for some personal nostalgia.

Where are those pale red shoes?


A dream can be smeared

with indelible stains


and rage can be soft

as a smoke screen.


Don't breathe!


The bedroom door is open,

carpet like brown meringue


dry cinnamon, old moth


I'll pretend I'm not here


am I close? Is this right?






The box has five pairs

of scissors in it.


I must not lose them


on a journey

I don't believe in.


There is a yellow



that can never

be a chimney


and an ordinary boy

is missing


(not a ghost

he is a little bit pirate).


This room is so soft

I could cut it


down the middle


five or seven times


Chairs can be

such solemn objects


(am I crying?)


Someone once said


'be jollier

be like a warm lap'


I'll never forget that.






Today is a horrible day

and now your arms


are covered

in vinegar, of all things.


Remember how I used

to wear your clothes


because I liked stripes


and wanted

to be you sometimes


or at least not me

for a sunny afternoon


in the fields?


I still love

the shriek of crows


occasional helicopters

grass and skylarks.


Fields simmer with violence

you'd say


and I'd not believe you

but be terrified.


I'll go back sometime

and the sky might


be black, or it might

be blue, or I might not notice.






She used to say indoor

snails taste of marzipan

and her nipples taste

of marzipan, and her tongue

and the small of her back.

She used to say this

because she longed

to be an almond

a huge hollow almond

full of upright Madonnas

all praying for love

and unimaginable purity.

Tessa Berring is an artist and writer based in Edinburgh. Her work appears in a variety of magazines including Zarf, (in collaboration with Kathrine Sowerby) The Rialto and Rabbit Catastrophe Review. A pamphlet, 'Cut Glass and No Flowers' was published in 2017 by Dancing Girl Press. She is also 1/12 of 12, an online writing collective of women poets living in Scotland.