Katie Hale

Two Poems by Katie Hale

The Cheese Mites (1903)


For forty-nine seconds, their bodies

bump like the first blind life

or clockwork mice, fighting. They jerk

and jolt across the screen, their cog-tooth legs

interlocking – so small

that for them the air is as thick

as water, and they become the nightmare fish

heaving on the sea bed. In the dark

of broken ships and whale bones,

their feelers twitch for sediment

to gorge and decompose:

it all comes down to this.



Go into the Woods


Sling your knapsack across your back,

or spotted handkerchief over your shoulder.

The trees are close and thick in there –

do not hack the branches, or knock

the sick leaves down. Do not take a torch

or breadcrumbs. Let nobody follow you.

You can tell your story when you emerge.


If you emerge, you will not want

to tell your story. So

you will learn the look on disappointed faces.

Or, to pacify, tell how once you witnessed

an owl, drift

in the mind of the trees, passing

wide as paper against the sky.