Peterloo: Estimated Wrap 19.00

Kate Rutter

We were woken and called into the light and what a light it was.
Lamps concealed in crevices were shone through sheets of Sunday white.
Everywhere the bellows moved, fog poured like weavers’ winter breath.Many hands, all dressed like men, made ready and when our living likeness
stepped into the room, and what a room it was, high and clear of cotton dust,
we heard again the words that were to cut us down. Over and overthose words were spoke but not to beat us with, this was no courtroom.
The likenesses had a well-fed look and clean. They sat on ample backsides
and with hands like children’s hands on laps, at last they understood.Was it our place to warn them then, to break the years and show ourselves?
Or were we fetched back only for witness? We breathed hunger in their ears.
We wove flowers and laurel leaves. We marched the square in step with them.And when the horsemen rode with sabres raised, we grieved our opened breasts,
our slashed and ruined faces. Although the square was not our square , the time
was not our time, on that day it was all such squares, littered with shoes and roses.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Print This Poem

Share on print

Kate Rutter is an actor in film, television and theatre and this strongly informs her work. Her poems have been published in The Rialto, Magma, The North, Matter, and in several anthologies.

Magma Poetry

Summer 2018


Like all the best poetry, Magma is always surprising. Every issue of Magma has a different editor, either members of our board or a prominent poet acting as a guest editor. It’s that fresh eye in each issue which gives Magma its unique variety.

Our aim is to promote the very best in contemporary poetry. Poetry that’s alert to the world we live in, that’s honest and above all, unexpected. It may come from previously unpublished or emerging poets or the more established. We make a point of including unknown poets alongside known names, and we’ve published Seamus Heaney, Don Paterson, Sean O’Brien, Alice Oswald, Al Alvarez, Wendy Cope, George Szirtes, Gillian Clarke, John Burnside and Mark Doty among many others.

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.