I have not yet caught the bus, but we are all here
ready to play our parts: the housewife with her basket,
the barefoot mother nursing her child,
the boy gazing out the window just as later
he’ll stare through the smeared pane and catch
the tram’s advance, his eyes wide as globes.
The gringo holds his bag of gold dust.
I am next to him, sixteen, my body still
intact when the bag explodes and something
bright as the sun fills the air with humming motes
that stick to my splattered skin. Then the labourer
with his mallet will heave the silver post out of me.
His blue overalls are clean. He is not surprised to find me
alive. Here, in Coyoacán at the stop, where the six of us
wait on a bench side by side, just as we will sit
in the wooden bus, comrades in the morning of my life.
What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren, 2010; Black Lawrence Press, US edition, 2011)
Pascale Petit’s latest collection is What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren, 2010), which was shortlisted for both the TS Eliot prize and Wales Book of the Year, and was Jackie Kay’s Book of the Year in The Observer. Black Lawrence Press published an American edition of the book in 2011. Pascale has published five collections, two others of which, The Huntress and The Zoo Father, were also shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and were Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement and the Independent. In 2004 the Poetry Book Society selected her as one of the Next Generation Poets. She has worked as poetry editor at Poetry London and currently tutors writing courses in the galleries at Tate Modern.
2 thoughts on “Pascale Petit: Featured Poet”
You move back and forth in time very skillfully. The shape of the poem works well for showing us scenes and people involved in this terrible accident (and reminds me of a broken bus). I can’t get these lines out of my head – “Then the labourer/with his mallet will heave the silver post out of me./
His blue overalls are clean.” When I reread the poem, the double meaning of “caught” jumped out at me, as well as the hard-c words scattered throughout the poem – caught, Coyoacán , comrades. But the whole poem is filled with echoing sounds. And then you leave us with the play on “morning” and the awful irony.
Thanks for your insightful critique, of the sounds and echoes, much appreciated. I’ve been away so just saw it. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the poem.