Ankita Saxena

poet, performer, workshop facilitator

Give or Take

Photo taken at Otterburn Training Area by Jessica Keating.

“Two signs on a brick wall point the way.

Take it or leave it. It’s as simple as that.

The choice is only yours to make.”


On our fourth night of leaving, this is what they say.

So again we take farewells, leave our shanty shacks.

Two signs on a brick wall point the way.


Today we are ready, today we will stay if they

let us. Our mothers are polished, our children in sacks.

The choice is only theirs to make.


But distanced and dirty we forget to pray.

Like grass weeds on hillsides we gather at camp

looking for two signs on a brick wall to point the way.


But the wind here is unflinching, sky a neutral grey

as if to say: Go back.

The choice was never yours to make.


So we stare back at heaven and each in turn say:

Take us or leave us. It’s as simple as that.

Two signs on a brick wall point the way.

The choice is only yours to make.


(Give or take.)



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About Ankita

Ankita Saxena is the author of Mother | Line, which released in April 2023, with Verve Poetry Press. She read English Literature at Jesus College, Oxford (2014-2017), where she was Head of Events at Oxford University Poetry Society, and President of the Turl Street Arts Festival. She has been commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award three times. She is a Barbican Young Poet alumnus, part of the Octavia Poetry Collective, and one half of the ORIGINS Poetry Duo. Her poetry is published in Wasafiri, Modern Poetry in Translation and Bath Magg. She has performed widely across the UK, including live at Hammersmith Appollo, with The Guilty Feminist.

By day, she works at Social Finance, a not-for-profit social enterprise, helping to tackle complex and enduring issues in society and create lasting and widespread change.

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