Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. She has six collections of poetry published by Carcanet. Her most recent collection, The Air Year, won the Forward Prize for Poetry 2020. Her fifth collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. A two-time winner of the Foyles Young Poets Award, her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes was published in 2002 when she was fifteen. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010. She was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Ground You land on a ridge, six-feet down the cliff and believe you have fallen from the dread summit and survived, you think, this is the ground. until you notice the larks passing at eye-level, drop a cufflink and fall fifty-feet into the open palm of another ridge, deeper in, scratched, clothes torn, you’ve lost a shoe but you think this is the ground, I can bake that lasagne now till a kite gets snagged in your hair, your feet meet a plunging carpet now you’re hanging by your necklace from a branch thinking this is the ground, let’s buy a puppy as you sit in your bracken chair, as you fall in your chair like a lopped flower head face-planting – Yes! Ground! – in a tree, wind-burnt from momentum, whip- lashed by your own screams, oops, then oops, oops, straddling a lamp-post, a pillar, a shed, each time believing this is the ground, believing you’ve survived, falling, landing, falling out, who knows how long you’ve been travelling down this thing, incrementally, held in the loosening- tightening fist of a giant with a featureless face. Thud. At last I can put up that shelf. Make that baby. You lie and let your bones heal, looking up at the distance, experiencing plateau for the first time, cold, hard, real, the opposite of air. You shake like a prodigal astronaut. I could build a house on this, you think, staggering off.
By kind permission of Carcanet Press Ltd, Manchester