The latest collection from David Cooke, After Hours is just out from Cultured Llama and comes hot on the heels of the successful Two Rivers Press collection, A Murmuration, which received notable reviews in various publications including London Grip and the TLS.
Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and published his first collection, Brueghel’s Dancers in 1984. His retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing and Work Horses in 2012 by Ward Wood Publishing.
LE NU PROVENÇAL
after Willi Ronis
She is like Eve in exile,
awakening each morning
when the sun has risen,
then rising herself,
shackled to the day’s routine.
She opens a shutter,
and the light sweeps in
across the uneven stone floor –
her summons to the tasks
that lie before her.
But first a strip-wash,
the astringent purity
of her ablutions. Leaning over
a basin, the chill water
unseals her eyes.
Still only half awake,
she takes in the tarnished
mirror, a chair; and sees how little
is needed to live
on the far side of paradise.
Here, where no one seems to walk,
they couldn’t give the name of a bird
whose loosely gathered congregation
sweeps the mild midwinter sky
between Miami and Boca.
And so I noted down the details
to help me find it later: the lightly
coloured head it’s hard to see
beyond its dark expansive
wings, the blunt edge of its tail.
The one time I saw them grounded
I sensed how even they were anchored
to necessity, their trailing wings
the robes of Rembrandt scholars
around some broken thing;
and stripping out its sinews
in a clueless, botched dissection,
they had their fill and rose again
into the swirl of the air
like charred scraps above a bonfire.
David Cooke is co-founder of The High Window (a quarterly review of poetry) along with Anthony Costello.
After Hours explores mortality and transience in the lives of Irish migrants that settled in England in the first half of the 20th century, and the generations that followed them. At the heart of this collection is an elegiac sequence of poems in memory of David Cooke’s father-in-law, a larger than life Irishman who met illness and death with good-humoured resilience.