Poetry | Emily Barker


The river arcs her blood around our bones –
feet in the water with small fish and sky
we slurp her muddy flesh between our toes,
spot two blue, lust-stuck arrows: dragonflies.
A fallen tree trunk is our diving board
and we compete for mum’s abiding grin.
With broken branches we make pirate swords
and walk the plank till one of us falls in.
The chorus of the kookaburra spills
into the gloaming valley setting pink
and when the sun makes for the shadowed hills,
like reeds we shiver in the moonlit ink
then dream the rest of our lives back in time
to days we spent humming our river rhyme.

Emily Barker is an award-winning singer-songwriter, best known as the writer and performer of the theme to the BBC’s hugely successful crime drama Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. She has released music as a solo artist as well as with various bands and collaborations including The Red Clay Halo, Vena Portae, Marry Waterson and Applewood Road and has written for film, including composing the soundtrack for Jake Gavin’s lauded debut feature Hector .

Emily’s new album A Dark Murmuration of Words was released on September 4th 2020. Produced by Greg Freeman and recorded at StudiOwz, a converted chapel in the Welsh countryside, A Dark Murmuration of Words takes Barker’s clear, expressive vocals and warm acoustic aesthetic and subtly shifts her sound in the direction of contemporaries such as Laura Marling and Phoebe Bridgers.

Website: www.emilybarker.com
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