Author: petra hilgers

Her father’s storm lamp

Leave a comment

Hard enough to picture her a little girl I don’t even know whether she had long hair braids      pigtails      surely no ribbons Even harder to picture Opa as a young father reigning his own republic       from atop the bench on the little cart I don’t know whether the horse ever had a name they are all utterly unsentimental about their childhood my aunt’s voice warming only for her boarding […]

email to Patti Smith

Leave a comment
Home / Place / Poetry / Travelling

Dear Patti Smith, I’m currently re-reading M Train because there’s a quote about ‘talent’ a vaguely remember from it that I’m trying to find. After years of underlining and scribbling into books, M Train must have entered my life when I had decided to keep books free of my thoughts, let them be themselves. So I can’t just find the quote by leafing through the pages. It’s actually a bit of a welcome excuse, too, […]


Nature / Place / Poetry

A contrail zips open the unblemished sky  Milky Way cascades out like lined up behind the curtain a river of speckles and sparkles trailing across the stage utterly found I wonder where sound stops  no longer even noticing the drunken laughter  outside the bar I passed on my way somewhere before town stopped for the play of the barred spiral galaxy  The first shooting star is a surprise almost too easy  the second one I […]

She made me spell out loud the 24 times I’ve moved homes

Place / Poetry / Travelling

Their sympathy is soggy summer grass clinging to my running tights as I’m weighing up mud     gravity    against this longing      beyond the electric fence and I’m not a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side kind But sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m sleepwalking the hills or trespassing into dreams with my caked Wellington boots stumping flat little ribwort flowers or spotted orchids that I’ll later check on my laptop for their names English     […]

I’ve won the 2021 erbacce prize!!


The news arrives with 4 exclamation marks into my inbox where I have to read it 3 times to understand they’re actually talking about me!!!! I’m still so blown away and in slight shock which is why it takes me 2 weeks to share it here. Hugely honoured by the decision of the erbacce team “You were unanimously selected as the best poet                  from 12,500+ submissions worldwide…” […]

To unlockdown


To unlockdown     [verb]     (quite passive) Winter and Covid have entered a pact they won’t move       Acholi people would call that stubborn       layella but I feel all Cable Street about it something to offer resistance to in this white out blur winter 20/21 won’t allow them entrance into that soft chamber of my heart painfully erected while others stash up toilet paper     Heinz beans   […]

Asked to write about ‘daffodils’ and ‘morning stretches’

Poetry / writing about blogging and blogging about writing

I’ve got some back injury I know     not even a Latin name for it on top of it there’s also osteoarthritis meaning my lower back gets tired easily Women’s stuff     you think           This is called an assumption     but           they say everything’s allowed in poetry Everyone I know with back problems is a woman fortunately not all women have back […]

London Bridge a remembering

London / Poetry

That first time you crossed me     on your 33rd birthday yelling     arms swinging     eyes spinning    like fidget toys I mistook your cry momentarily for despair     it’s not fair that I should know that so well     being five months younger than you     you just know how to keep it moving     like everyone else     they come to go     […]

Now that you’ve unpacked everything


When you finally stop ironing the jacket dusting the shelves darning the hat eating something writing a text message checking your eBay notifications eating some more shuffling papers into neat piles trying out different arrangements clearing the dish rack boiling the kettle drinking something following his request to sit in silence for five minutes your blizzard of thoughts bounces off the hum of your fridge     away from the water pipes swishing close by […]

Let me be your bar of soap

Poetry / relationships

Because you’ve sent me my new SIM in the envelope I’d already addressed     stamped with three inappropriately white Virgin Marys And because you only wrote three words that said so much of your contempt for corporate cunningness     for how much you’ll look out for me     you even kept the other SIM just in case     after I’d suggested to throw it away      then needed it anyway […]

Geeking out about a trip to Groß-Gerau

Place / Poetry

Growing up he garnished many a family gathering going over gouged-out puns     gospel of gloomlessness Germans of Granddad’s generation gratefully grabbed his good-natured gigs     groomed his gumption to get on stage with god-knows no grace     nor airs just grinning     giggling     glibbing his way to glory in grave suit     greasy comb-over     goofy humour galvanising a nerve     grasping a growing hunger […]

River Nights

Nature / Place / Poetry

  She’d always felt unbearably lonely in those nights of fog     maybe that story of the lonely man who’d gone missing they said he must have drowned in the river As a child fog was a cloud of tiny fairy flowers fairy flower fog    sprinkling out of the river Yesterday she saw a white heron    tiptoe through its water    kissing water’s skin    little Victorian pecks    and again   […]



The word lockdown has become blunt each cut less precise all the more painful  that new 10 mile permission zone around me  severs the one line I’ve got in an unhomely country  still called home the line that towed me away from my other home The 8pm curfew a curtain  keeping out hairy Rauhnächte’s heavy breathing  from the other world a ruined church deep in the woods of tall pine trees keeping in the sweet illusion […]

Quarantine 7


I can’t help thinking of the storks in the marshland  behind the row of new builds they’ve stopped returning  to their African home maybe they’ve grown used  to their icy South German escape I don’t know why  it feels significant why I prefer listening to Radio 4 watch the Queen’s Christmas speech for the first time  the pomp behind thin lips   commentators found it comforting I once found a serpentine it didn’t shine or glitter  small as my thumbnail almost […]