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Claire Loader is a New Zealand born writer and photographer now living in Galway, Ireland. Her work has been published in various magazines, including Poetry Bus, Splonk, Crannóg and Skylight47. She won the Women Speak Poetry Competition in 2019 and her story 'Return' was shortlisted for the Allingham Flash Fiction Prize in the same year. She is a Forward and Pushcart Prize nominee and this year sees her collective anthology Pushed Toward the Blue Hour published by Nine Pens Press.

Twitter:  @msloader



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Fallow (click title for audio)


We toiled

the summer soughs

planted the seeds

of ourselves

watered and weeded

the earth

between us

and yet

nothing grows


Published in Black Bough edition, Yolk

Standstill  (click title for audio)


The clock on the mantel

doesn’t move, doesn’t tick

doesn’t measure the weight

of our skin.


We lie facing,

rescinding the minutes,

your breath a sluice,


each gasp

the only knowing

that time beats at all.



Published in Black Bough, Dark Confessions

Monochrome  (click title for audio)


I seldom reach for the box that sits

beneath my bed. My ageing hands, the dark

pigments of your broken ink.


I wish for more from these lines,

ecstasies reduced to black and white.


It does not matter

the white mould, the dusting

of a night sky upon your face —

in my heart I see you in colour.



Published in Black Bough edition, Dark Confessions




Under a microscope

sand reveals itself as tiny crystals,

the world worn down –

an infinity of stars.

So set towards the darkened sky,

here was the universe

laid at our feet.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series



Trees swim their tips above the canopy

reaching for an unseen surface — branches

sweep the grey morning in unison,


I envy their graceful dance, how they grow to sway   

and not break, how they know the shape

of the notes that pull them.  Slender limbs,


I feel the creak within my own, walk

stilted to the haze of the day,

eyes awash with spindrift.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series

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We birth each new day with our senses, own the day by being it. I often wonder at this, how life springs forward from each of us, exists only because we conceive of it - rolls together, links our different stories, parts again like liquid. I walk the dog most mornings, down through the winding bog, wonder is he part of my life or I a part of his – cows lowing, the road forking by the blackberry bushes, imagine each path without end. 

The quiet of the dusty road makes the air feel loud, makes me feel like I’m swimming underwater, and I wonder at the fabric that frames us, surprised when a hare or stoat decides to interrupt it. Ernest Becker describes us as gods who defecate, immortal beings stuck inside decaying flesh – able to dream, to imagine, to know the ecstasy of living as we slowly rot into the earth that birthed us. 

I trip on a piece of old tyre. People like to dump their rubbish in the bog, hoping no one will ever see it. Dirty nappies, empty vodka bottles. I come after I drop my son to school, let the village slip behind me as if it didn’t exist, allow my fears to slacken out to the waiting breeze.

Already we have tried again twice, the blood of each lost story returned to the earth, the grip upon my own, wavering. Each year the weight of the last rests heavy upon my empty stomach, knows the narrowing gap. I question what right I have to pull another in with me, whether it is enough for want of love to offer more eyes to this madness of living, whether we will even be given the chance.

They say in each life we are set a task - the lesson we need to learn will come at us and come again, until we face it.

The dog pulls suddenly to the right. I hesitate.

Maybe it is time I simply go where the morning leads.

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A blink in the walls of time.

A hair in the lime and mortar.

Separate, but for a breath,

until we become them again.

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"Writing to me is just pure enjoyment, to see what words might spring from the silence, to make something out of nothing. I have never found it with a paintbrush or a potter’s wheel, always falling back to pen as my route to that tantalising artistic river, what is bubbling in the subconscious. Writing is a chance to pause the external din, a chance to try and make sense of it. There is nothing akin to the feeling of finding yourself within its current."

Shoe Polish


We marked our faces and went

to war, turpentine and gum,

hid behind Dad’s weekly task,

the flax bushes, the pungas.

He polished while we skirmished –

fired pebbles and sticks –

until each shoe was lined up

neatly at the back door,

his battle with perfection won.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series







We talk with words, yet these are not

the things that speak to us

Drawn apart by unseen threads


How did I end up so far

when you were lost?

What drew us each to our calling?


If only the threads were visible

I could have taken your hand

set you on a different path


Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series



I will no longer know


how long the evening is

without you telling me of its stretch.


Each day an extra minute more to tarry about the garden

doing nothing.


I will no longer know how it feels to sit within the building light,

sip wine in the company of your silence, now empty

as I stand here within the stretching day, thinking

of all the minutes.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series



Still Life


Handed the printout like a receipt,

plans unravelling, I stumbled

from the office, the silent

monitor, the long narrow stretch

of the Curraghline a delivery.


Now I sit within these walls,

day after day,

like the strip of photographs


in my handbag.

One still life to another.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series






Heat is how you began,

although there’s scant of it around:

we built our own fire,

forged you then in its embers.


The heat of vomit spewing.

The heat of cells dividing.


And now the strange heat

of summer; not hot enough

to sweat, but hot enough to stick,

enough to itch. Skin


growing, meeting, chaffing.


And then heat will see you to us -

searing and stabbing -

before the warmth of you

on my chest, in my arms.


The temperature full circle.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series





We have danced

this mortal coil,

I forget how many turns,


we have picked each other

from the waiting lines -

across a dance hall,

across time.


I see my soul in the reflection

of your smile, the fragments

of our past lives.


I would know you anywhere.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series





Black Widow


An undisturbed field, my mind teems.

Thousands of tiny legs, scuttering.

I plot as if I have eight, quietly spinning,


watch as he picks food from his teeth,

flicks it onto the carpet.


The black widow doesn’t naturally eat her mate.

It has never been observed in the wild.


Imprisoned, she is rash.  Only enclosed

in the same small space, day after day,

does she get her special name.


I wonder as I watch him scratch

with dirty nails, swig

another beer, what name they will give to me?

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series







Ash trees are dying, quietly.

Silently shedding

strong branches,

skeletal limbs.

Roots touching,

do they mourn unseen?

As we learn too late

the starkness

of the sky.

Exclusive to the Silver Branch Series

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