Here are some more recent poems from
my third collection which I'm just in the process of completing. Please
do give me your feedback.
Interiors are still influencing my poems but I'm currently writing more
about light and also the idea of visitation and vision, as in the first
poem which imagines what might have happened if Mary hadn't been in
'the right place at the right time' for the Annunciation. Here you can
read two different versions - the first was the one I stuck with for a
long while, but when I came back to the poem I felt it needed more work
which resulted in version number 2. This second version was published
this year in the magazine Smiths
The second poem grew out of an artists' residency which I
became involved in at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
based at the University of Middlesex. The artists in question, Barbara
Dean, Hilary Kneale and Anne Rapstoff, used the museum's collections to
create art and events around ideas of the domestic space. I took part
in a workshop which involved participants bringing along objects which
had a story attached to them or some personal significance. This got me
thinking about those items which have lost their specific history: they
may bear the marks of usage but how they were used and why they were
kept has not been recorded. I've always been attracted to Dutch still
lives and the way they capture both a sense of history and of
timelessness. In this poem, 'After Life', I consider how the women who
used these objects have also faded from memory but how their lives
continue as a kind of echo in the simple objects that formed part of
their daily routine.
Women [version 1]
This evening I came back home
and everything was just as I'd left it -
except the bowls gleamed with a new knowledge,
the cat wore her yellow gaze like a mask
and I sensed the house had been visited,
saw sun streaming in through the spare room window,
a square of gold on the empty floor:
the clock had lost a minute it never regained.
I was blessed with children anyway,
I shook my life out like a cloth,
yet I am different for not being chosen:
on summer mornings I slip into the garden
before the dew has lifted - I have the blue sky to myself,
a full moon melting like a wafer on the tongue.
One evening I
came back home
was just as I’d left it –
bowls gleamed with a new knowledge,
the cat wore
his yellow gaze like a mask,
and I sensed
the house had been visited,
like ferns in the quiet air.
I was blessed
with children anyway,
I shook my life
out like a cloth,
there is a purpose after all
in not being
the minute my
clock has never regained,
sunlight in the
guest room climbing its ladder of dust.
As far back as great, great, great
names and faces
are scoured away
like plates scraped clean
of painted flowers
by daughters wanting more.
after voice and gesture are lost,
is less love
than force of habit:
the angle of a peeler’s
the battered wisdom of the pan
you boil the morning milk in,
its patina of burnt
If only I could learn to be
this fit for purpose:
the passed-down smoothness
of handled ash, a daily-ness
like prayer or bread
and the mouth’s need of them.
You’ve been living for this for weeks
without knowing it:
the moment the house empties like a city in August
it forgets you exist.
Light withdraws slowly
is almost gone before you notice.
In the stillness, everything becomes itself:
the circle of white plates on the kitchen table
the serious chairs that attend them
even the roses on the papered walls
seem to open a little wider.
It looks simple: the glass vase holding
whatever is offered –
cut flowers, or the thought of them –
simple, though not easy
this waiting without hunger in the near dark
for what you may be about to receive.