apple, fallen is Olga’s debut poetry pamphlet. ‘These poems reward rereading and hang around in your mind, delivering phrases and lines back to you at unexpected times that turn out to be the times you need them most.’ (Ian McMillan)
Olga is originally from Northern Ireland. A former Warwick Poet Laureate, she has had poetry and flash fiction published in a range of magazines including Rattle Magazine, Dodging the Rain, Magma, Strix, Cordite Review, Under the Radar, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House and Paper Swans.
She was the winner of the 2019 BBC Proms poetry competition, is a commissioned artist for Coventry City of Culture 2021 and last year, was selected as one of the emerging poets for the podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World.
She is an assistant head teacher in a secondary school and has two daughters.
Such a simple word. Brutal to begin, quick
to end. Glad of the distance between us
I study it. A ship run aground in a glass case,
its blade narrowing beautifully to a curved keel.
Then the handle, heavy as a church pew, wood worn
in two places from practised hands of a headsman.
I picture a neck exposed, pink sinews propped
like a stick of snapped rhubarb gleaming with sugar
beads for a few seconds, before boards darken,
splinters stained again with a body spilled over.
I study it, the opposite of a lung or a bicycle
or a wildflower, and am reminded of the wail
of a child being left by her mother. A front door closing
as a silvered edge. An unchartered place called severance.
(17th century Axe, used for executing criminals in St Andrews, St Andrews Museum, Fife)
Her smile is waxed water, curved perfect and full.
Sleeping in grass-hush, she fits herself perfectly,
a wise moon dressed only in pearled skin and sugar.
She is open as a lake, offering a steady reflection to
gospelled branches above that sway love-heavy,
growing with all of her hope-laden daughters –
her smashed skull is a restless shattered crawling
of ferment, made only of wasps that cling to shrinking
edges. she is a cave of black static, her crabbed body
hollowed beyond blood. a boat silenced with dry land,
she has sunk her own tongue, devoured her eyes, cheeks,
swallowed the blameless sun. there is only this place –
turn me over before you ask how I am.