When I Return to London by Maddie Godfrey

When I Return to London
It asks me how long I can hold my breath for
I tell the city, that I invented drowning
That I knew the ocean when it was only limbs / not yet a body
That could not swallow
Only spit or spray

I tell London, that I knew the ocean
Way back when
It was sinking too
Before the waves and the wildlife
I tell London, that I have seen how wonder looks before others glance its way
How a universe looks when it is still an atom
How all humans still sway like windscreen wipers
On days there is no storm

When I return to London
The city does not ask where I have been
It is an abusive lover
I will leave, then come home to
Only to count each bruise like a new bedtime story

The city asks
If I have learnt to run in my sleep
I ask it if the ocean sleeps
I do not say, I am the ocean
But I mean, I am going to make waves
I am going to crash again and again
And still thrash like nothing has happened
I am going to bubble over
While everyone watches
I am going to scream until the seagulls
Arrive to offer assistance

And I will drown in myself
Just like the ocean does each night
Before the sky resuscitates it,
I will hold my breath
Just to remember how good oxygen tastes
In desperate lungs

Because one day the ocean will say
That it knew me when I was only limbs
Not yet a body


Maddie Godfrey is an Australian-bred poet currently living in London. She is the current Western Australian poetry slam champion, and has also won slams in London, Cambridge and Oxford. Over the last year she has performed at the Sydney Opera House, co-written a stage show, and participated in the Women of the World Poetry Slam and festival in Brooklyn, New York. Off stage, Maddie’s work has been published on feminist websites, on a University poster, in anthologies and as part of a YouTube series. More of her writing can be found at http://www.facebook.com/maddiegodfreypoet