Saturday, 3 September 2011

Under Gallow's Veil

This poem won the UK's Writing Magazine's 'One Word Challenge' competition for August on its online forum Talkback.

The one-word theme was Shadow.

I hope you like it.

Under Gallow's Veil
by Lily Childs

I bleed upon your shadow, hanging dark on winter’s ground.
Dip pale fingers into dirt,
cast edges round your form
shape so slim as skeletal,
your broken heart unbound.

The dule tree weeps cadaverous tears, a sycamore lament.
Triple bodies, pendulous
swing easy in the breeze
keeping time with coarse crow caws,
blue wings in bleak torment.

Out thieving with your brothers, courting death to counter life.
Love became our enemy,
a kiss so sweet and rare.
Vengeance swelled in bitter words
to spill from me, your wife.

They caught you trading booty, at the place I said you’d be.
No sooner out my mouth than
regret ate at my soul.
Now I pray, in deep remorse
below young brothers, three.

Night brings its own betrayal, stealing light from Old Man Sun.
Skin rips as I dig down deep,
your resting place to make.
We’ll share this bed forever.
There’s nowhere left to run.


  1. Wow! I am left breathless!

    Bleak and somber verse, life and death struggling... a river of emotions run through me, reading this... there is so much truth, it almost overwhelms...

    "... courting death to counter life." This line really hits home.

    Excellent writing...this is amazing... dark, haunting, beautiful.

    Brava, Lily... BRAVA!!

  2. Well done and congrats, Lily!

  3. This is a dark fire of love, betrayal, and maybe even a hint of surrender in the POV with the choices and perspectives that are made.

    That last line really brings the piece home. Love the language and passionate truth. It's definitely a winner, Lily.

  4. Veronica, Kim and Erin; I'm so grateful for your comments. This was one of those pieces where I felt slightly out of myself when I wrote it, as though I were observing from a distance.

    It wasn't channelled, it wasn't automatic - it was like a memory.

    Dule is a now rare sycamore, and was used in Scotland as a gallows. Perhaps my Cameron blood retains some residual memory. Perhaps not.

  5. I love the story that unfolds here, Lily, and the language of bitter regret that brings it to life.

    Brava indeed!

  6. Ah, Lily, I like!

    Lots of goodness in this dark tale; the passion and the ending, of course, but also the rhythm and the lovely "old style atmosphere". I do favourite the first paragraph, though -- excellent, excellent language!


  7. It's amazing what one word will inspire. It's as if one is life and the other is death, they are united by marriage, but never can have the peace of the likeness of one world. just like our physicality and our shadows. At least this is how I interpreted this verse. Just beautiful and amazing, Lily.


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.