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Silver Branch series
August 2023
Larissa Reid

Larissa Reid lives on Scotland’s east coast with her husband and two teenage daughters. Larissa writes poetry and prose, with notable poetic contributions to Northwords Now and Black Bough Poetry anthologies and many online poetry magazines and journals. She had a poem shortlisted for the Janet Coats Memorial Prize 2020. She has also had poems selected for anthologies celebrating past Scottish poets and writers, including George Mackay Brown (Beyond the Swelkie) and Hamish Henderson (The Darg).

To her surprise, two of Larissa’s poems that were directly inspired by George Mackay Brown’s gorgeous poetry have been turned into musical performance pieces. The first poem 'Net', appeared as part of the GMB Fellowship’s Words into Music festival in 2021 – here is a video recording made at St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney of a piece of music inspired by, and incorporating, Larissa’s poem. This piece was composed by Ian Murray. The second poem, 'The Wound and the Gift', formed part of the 'Beyond the Swelkie' event that was first created for the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2022 and has since been touring Scotland. The superb Scots musician and composer Hamish Napier wrote a short piece for piano and violin to accompany her poem.

You can find Larissa on social media:

Twitter: @Ammonites_Stars    Instagram: ammonitesandstars

Blog contributor: (sporadic) /


Books can be bought by direct messenger on Twitter or Instagram.

Larissa was a book of the month recipient in May 2023, review by Glenn Barker.



Walking the wind with ghosts and birds,

I find a feather,

curled and intricate,

beautifully camouflaged

against bone-bleached heather.

I hold it up to show you.

you pinch it between your fingers

and take it with you when you go,

spinning away northwards,

to settle on a distant skein of snow.


Published in Black Bough’s Winter / Christmas edition, 2021



Next Christmas, I know I’ll find so many of your stories

wrapped in the language of silk threaded Seventies baubles

and encased in glass crystal creatures,

dancing in candlelight.

Next Christmas, I know I’ll find you

in the cinnamon and orange-peel scent

the careful selection of ribboned gifts

and the snow crystals spinning on the North wind.

I’ll love that version of you, secreted away in attic boxes,

and etched in the wings of tiny gold-leafed birds.


Published in Black Bough’s Winter / Christmas edition, 2022



In this land of copper-light and clouds

heather roots tangle like mineral veins

and knot the place together.

broken mirror pools

trap patches of sky

invert mountains, break up

the darkness of gabbro.

Wind-smashed and rain-beaten

hills crumble back into Earth,

swallowed whole over millennia -

re-structured, re-formed,

and spat back out.

Published in Black Bough’s Deep Time Vol. 2, 2020



We transect time. 

Our bodies papyrus against weight of rock, 

This compressed calcite that swallowed sea.

We are the first to exhale

Into this dense space,

Replete with life, solidified.

The dark dismantles us. 



Published in Black Bough’s Tutankhamun anthology, 2023






This pebble word that sits balanced 

on the tip 

of my tongue, 

a rounded weight of meaning, 

carefully measured, it gives shape 

to gaps between worlds, 

a surface shared then split then travelled - 

millennia, eon, ocean, 

rolled, reeled, relinquished, 

to lie sheltered in shattered sand. 

I pebble-press this thought into your palm

from the other side of this blistering Earth. 

Published in Black Bough’s A Duet of Ghosts anthology, 2022

A pocketful of air


I’ve kept a pocketful of air for you; 

a mountain’s breath mixed with stream light,

coral granite and sliced stars. 

This will lift you when you’re sunk in sly shadows, 

sliding with sifting voices 

or dancing with devil’s hooves. 

I’ve kept the raindrops that pierced my ears, 

the raven feather dipped in ice, 

and the low slow rise of the moon on snow.

I’ll leave them all here,

laid out on the ward’s long windowsill, 

in case you find your way back. 








if only I could have met you

when we were young

centuries back

with slight sapling trees

bending lithe in the wind

and us, slip-like, wisp-like,

dancing between each heartbeat

had the sun parted sea mists in this way

I’d have led you to the cool dampness

of quarry walls for a kiss

that lasted aeons 

a long slow entangling

at our very roots





Fire starter*


gorse flowers flame,

spark story, burst coconut


    n  i  g  h  t  f  a  l  l


ink streams in glossed gutters

your hair smells of rain and sweet cicely.





There’s always one


One who capsules time.

In their company, hours stretch,

you find yourself willowed within language, 

held in and by their words, 

their phrasing a lifting mesh

that leaves the darting shoal of you 

tethered to all the wrong ideas. 

Larissa has self-published three short poetry pamphlets – In February (2019), Caesura (2022) and rock|salt (2022). The ROCK|SALT project was a collaboration between Larissa and mixed media artist Elspeth Knight, which culminated in an exhibition at Glisk Gallery in Burntisland, Fife, in the autumn of 2022. All the poems from ROCK|SALT are available as audio files on Larissa’s soundcloud page.

Larissa is ever-hopeful that a small press will one day publish a collection of her poems – a dream yet to be realised!

In Feb book cover.JPG
Caesura cover.jpg

Glass in glycerol


if that pain could vanish

like glass in glycerol,

a trick of the light,

knots over a broken tide


it might leave


a long stretch of land

streaming fieldfares

at the blush end of winter;


the empty mauve of bare birch

printed with ink owl

on an agate landscape;


and you


a peeled self

surrounded by riven things.





Ruffled night*


handcuffed bangles of frost at the wrists

cool the temper of day


tallowed scent circles

lacquered by candlelight


let it slip over you,

this ruffled night

a silken form

barbed with stars



The worked stone tilts in unearthly orange sunset;

a stormcock flings hard notes out into the gale,

jewelled sound surfing the wind,

peeling layers from her heart,

pure as a diamond-coated blade.

She wants to run, hard into rain and wind;

pavements beckon, mineral basaltic,

stuttering under the cold grit of weather.

She wants to shapeshift,

change colour and tone with the seasons,

for her body to lift and breathe and float free.

Instead, she turns from the window,

catches herself in the twist of children and baths and bedtime,

while the stormcock pitches diamonds out into the gale,

and glitters the empty streets.

Trace fossil* 


Your stride echoes the long beach. 

I follow, far behind, willing you to hear me,

my screaming whisper, swift-like, 

scribed in summer’s dusk.

but you’ll never turn back 

nor fill in the gaps you left behind. 


A season’s span 

measured in footprints and backwash,

air vibrates in winter’s cold, 

a low blue ache writes across my lungs.

These singing crystal scars lie,

their memories flawless, while you never were. 

Dark star


News of your death tunnelled its way through night,

claws curled, waiting for rim of daybreak,

before my heart bit through the worms of words.


You had moles strewn across your body,

constellations of dark stars

traced under covers.


You’d have hated the service.

It was for your parents, not you.

They are dug in deep

with their transparent God.

You’d have taken us through tall trees

to sit at the roots,

twist stories into leaf litter,

and settle in some sweet soil cave,

where your soul would set itself free

to slip through soft sculptures of mycelium.

Persephone’s betrothal


dip toe

cooled to the bone

ringed meniscus


I step over a complex threshold

from out, to in.

Air feathers,

a splayed brush of condensation

on cave walls.


Dark breathes

in          out

in          out

shoe scuff amplifies

ripples, aches.

Far away in, waterfall

tips over black edge.


He soothes me;

the deep drop of his voice

settles my mind.

I leave my mother behind

for his lips, his muscled arms,

the slow soak of darkness

drenches the world above.

A black whole of molecules;

ideas touching, melding, reforming,

held inside are sun sparks,

flower stars, bubbled oases.


dip ring finger

cooled to the bone

echoed meniscus



I take this stretch fold knead repeat stretch 

into my heart where warmth rises, 

and the day sets into an autumn 

of brisk air and crisped edges. 

Turn the clocks 

back to my father in the kitchen, 

morphing flour into magic, 

while I sweep red cherry leaves into heaps 

for the frost queen to kiss, 

and dip my hand into conker pockets 

to twist their smoothness around my knuckles.

I’m called inside to taste a rich simplicity

of hot muffins sealed with butter 

and grandma’s bottled summer jam.


I take this stretch fold knead repeat stretch 

open my kitchen to bitter air, 

and call my daughters in from the owls 

to eat fresh bread torn by cold fingers,

and leave the memories to rise. 


Best dive in through slate and seaweed

before friends grab ankles, wrists,

count your years as they swing, and then – brief air –

and slap! into cold,

eyes of salt, mouth of sand brine,

ears filled with swelling laughter.

Surface smiling, regardless of feeling or season.

A bonfire waits with hot drinks and midnight’s steaming kisses.



Round rimy castle rocks, witch lake lies.

Accused once, bound twice in a cross,

thumb to opposing big toe.

Swung over edge – s  t  r  e  t  c  h  e  d    a  i  r   -

and smack! into sea’s shock, or rock’s knife.

Eyes of salt, mouth a swollen density of brine,

surface, and a bonfire waits with a stake –

sink, and at least you’re bound for Heaven’s gate.


In Eternity


Carrying slander and envy, 

squirrel chatters and scrabbles up tree spine and down, 

from serpent to birds and back. 

A dragon flick of tail and hiss 

declares displeasure, imminent, 

while furl of feather and curl of beak

coaxes, cajoles, and then, torments.

Yggdrasil flourishes while fury feasts; 

the ash inhales a spike of air from winter’s edge

then blows out sharply 

to skewer the rumours rooting in her midst. 

Night rose


Not a grasshopper, but a moth -

breath-light and slight,

with a woodland’s intricacy 

braided into its wings.

Outstretched in cool dusk 

we pass hours together

pressed on the window pane;

night rose in accompaniment. 

A diffused touch

from feathered antennae 

passes wisdom of winged silences 

and a sharp lesson in forgiveness. 

As moth melds with moon’s crescent, 

the city hill holds 

the roe deer’s rough bark,

and the short circuit snap of fox. 



A poem inspired by Matt Gilbert’s poem ‘Grasshopper’ from Street Sailing (2023) 

It can be such a joy, such a release, to transform through language into something or someone new or unknown. The world and all living beings in it are in a constant state of flux – mutating and transforming – to me this theme embodies so much of what it is to be human. We all change as we grow, we want to change specific parts of ourselves or the ways we think and how we are perceived. If there is an over-riding theme running through my work, it is that of adaptation and flexing in response to circumstances or the people that we meet.

Life events, the stories we are part of or stumble across every single day, and the relationships we continually build and dismantle – each of these holds a weight, sometimes a tough, emotional weight. Poetry is my way of navigating these different weights and finding ways to examine, understand, and (sometimes, eventually) accept and release them. I write poems for the benefit of my own mental health first and foremost. If another person feels lifted by my words, all the better. If others find solace or their curiosity is piqued by a poem of mine, this is truly wonderful. But it is not why I write, because there is never a guarantee that others will read and enjoy my work. I write for myself; I have seen so much in the first half of my life that I am compelled to write about it all. I often repeatedly explore the same details or memories or emotions over and over again. I would never have found my more resilient self without reading and writing poetry.

Larissa Reid, August 2023

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