Under glittering skirts she’s bare
and shaking down plums of quartz
opening a cabinet of caves
for the doctoring sea to examine
holding out handsome arms
for long tattoos of serpentine.
The tide breaks down, tells her it loves her
as the years do, courting her face
out of its doorway of thrift, running
deep rings round her, asking again
for love, not duty, but she dries herself
and dresses neatly for the long walk
up from the earth, shaking seawater
from her mantle as she leads out
young men and women schooled
to serve – tin, the bright one,
soft-faced slate, maker of rooftops,
mason of the grave. Granite
has taken the lesson to heart and stands,
wild stone, still as moonlight, child
of two fathers and broken by each . . .
overhead, underfoot the tide is passing.
Zeeba Ansari is a poetry tutor who lives in Cornwall. She has worked in partnership with Cornwall Adult Education and Library Services, and on a freelance basis. She has edited The Launde Bag (2005), Inspirations (a pamphlet of poems by Truro Library Poetry Group, 2006) and, with Victoria Field, co-edited Prompted To Write: Words for Well-Being (fal, 2007).
She has had articles published in Writing Works: A Resource Handbook for Therapeutic Writing Workshops and Activities, eds. Gillie Bolton, Victoria Field, Kate Thompson (2006), and Prompted to Write. Her poems (or versions of them) have appeared in Ambit, ARTEMISpoetry, Hidden Histories: A South West Poetry Project, edited by Greta Stoddart, Magma, Poetry Wales, Scintilla, The Forward Poetry Anthology 2010, The Frogmore Papers, The Rialto, and Peony Moon (www.peonymoon.wordpress.com). Zeeba has also won or been placed in a variety of poetry competitions. Love’s Labours is her much-awaited debut collection.
‘Boutique poetry press Pindrop introduces a debut collection of rich lyricism and insight from Zeeba Ansari. The poems in Love’s Labours have a transformative, song-like quality, tackling modern myths, ancient legends and personal experience with beautiful poise and an unflinching eye. While the reader is transported into vividly imagined worlds, the poems are utterly grounded in reality and the elements, making for a collection which is burning with energy and teeming with life.’
PBS Bulletin, Autumn 2013
Penelope Shuttle said of Love’s Labours:
‘Zeeba Ansari’s debut collection Love’s Labours introduces a poet of remarkable range and purpose. These are singing, transformative poems grounded in reality and the elements. Her voice is richly lyrical, forging language into composures of insight and energy. The poet engages unflinchingly and resourcefully with her material. Whether drawing upon historical or mythical figures, tales from the Mabinogion or from the Silk Route, or from the hard-won landscapes of personal experience, her poems are beautifully wrought, strong and tactile, possessing that essential equipoise which gives a poem its being. She takes us from The World Tree to Kashgar Market, round the world and back again. It is a wondrous journey. These poems breathe and pulse with life.’