When my brother put his fist through a window
on New Year’s Eve, no one noticed until a cold draft
cooled the bodies dancing in the living room.
There was rainbow light from a disco ball, silver tinsel
round the pictures. My brother held his arm out to us,
palm upturned, a foot high spray of blood.
This was Ilford, Essex, 1993, nearly midnight,
us all smashed on booze and Ecstasy and Danny,
6 foot 5, folding at the knee, a shiny fin of glass
wedged into his wrist. We walked him to the kitchen,
the good arm slung on someone’s neck,
Gary shouting Danny, Darren phoning
for an ambulance, the blood was everywhere. I pressed
a towel across the wound, around the glass
and led him by the hand into the garden, he stumbled
down into the snow,  slurring leave it out and I’m ok
A girl was crying in the doorway, the music carried on,
the bass line thumping as we stood around my brother,
Gary talking gently saying easy fella,  Darren
draining Stella in one hand and in the other, holding up
my brother’s arm, wet and red, the veins stood out
like branches. I thought that he was dying,
out there in the snow and I got down, I knelt there
on the ice and held my brother, who I never touched
and never told I loved, and even then I couldn’t say it
so I listened to the incantation easy fella
and my brother’s breathing,
felt him rolling forward, all that weight, Darren
throwing down his can and yelling Danny, don’t you dare
and shaking him. My brother’s face was grey,
his lips were loose and pale and I
was praying. Somewhere in the street,
there was a siren, there was a girl inside
who blamed herself, there were men with blankets
and a tourniquet, they stopped my brother bleeding,
as the New Year turned, they saved him,
snow was falling hard, they saved us all.

from Chick(Bloodaxe, 2013), © Hannah Lowe 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Hannah Lowe in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.