Amongst “things found”
a vast plastic bag of books
as, if like that boy-king
with his painted peacock-eye
of kohl, you could fill
that metal tomb, that gas-filled car
with seeds of dormant knowledge
like grains of ancient barley that sprout
centuries after the plunder of grave-dark
to equip you for another better life.
Alchemies and knowledge
that had not served, had
failed you here. As if,
as if you could lay down
pearls, gobbets of wisdom
like dates or carved sardonynx,
blue lapis lazuli set in granulated
beads or gold, rare tinctures or
ointments of myrrh, to be absorbed
through your alabaster skin,
as the night enfolded you,
drew you home across
the dark-green, green-dark
Styx, to where such knowledge
may yeild meaning beyond
the hollow howl of words.
From Ghost Station (Salt Publishing)
Sue Hubbard is a freelance art critic, novelist, award-winning poet, lecturer and broadcaster. Twice winner of the London Writers’ competition and a Hawthornden Fellow, she was the Poetry Society’s first-ever Public Art Poet commissioned by the Arts Council and the BFI to create London’s biggest art poem that leads from Waterloo to the IMAX. Her books of poetry include Everything Begins with the Skin (Enitharmon 1994). A selection of poems in Oxford Poets 2000 (Carcanet). Ghost Station (Salt Publishing 2004), The Idea of Islands (Occasional Press 2010) and The Forgetting and Remembering of Air (Salt Publishing 2014).
Neither Your Mother’s Pleas
You were bright
as winter light on water,
quick as a deer, startled
under the quivering leaves of the forest
and running for your life
when they caught you.
You couldn’t stay
as you were –
ensnared and doped…
High above the dull earth
on the narrow walk-way
you caught sight
of something dazzling,
than winter light on water
and leaping, left behind
this world of ours.
It was not enough to keep you.
Neither your mother’s pleas
nor the earth, sun and moon
in all their glory
were enough to keep you.
Vivienne Tregenza has been published in many magazines including Acumen, Ambit, The Frogmore Papers, Cinnamon Press and recent prizes in ARTEMISpoetry (commended by Jackie Kay), The Frogmore Prize and was a Cinnamon Debut Collection finalist. She has been published in various anthologies and her prize-winning poem published in Poetry on the Lake Journal One ed. by Gabriel Griffin. Vivienne is working towards a full collection.
Opening the Gate
In five years, we had just two, true conversations.
The first expansive, outside in sunshine, marriage
on both our minds – we were wedding guests
on a perfect May day, everyone joyful, dressed up,
bubbling with mild hysteria. You acknowledged
a wistfulness, too, for those of us not, or not yet,
(and, now, never can be) – happily spliced.
At least that’s what I read between your easy banter
and serious discussion of churches and religion – like me,
you seemed on the edge – half in half out
but yearning too, wanting to know more about
that one-way gate, the jewelled road tumbling towards
an amazing light and open arms. The second time
we talked one-to-one, was in winter, a cold, dead day
between Christmas and New Year. Kind friends
brightened the darkness with a party and games
but you, subdued, were not quite there –
told me it had been a dreadful year.
More and more, you said, you’d been in the cathedral
asking the questions it understands so well
but finding no answers. ‘A permanent solution
to a temporary problem,’ someone said, afterwards,
not seeing the solution’s already a given –
the dilemma’s not why, but how, what and when –
the why-nots of love, work and friends, irrelevant –
they’ll all soon be gone, in any case. Not a moment of madness –
you choreographed a small theatre of action – and then?
Was it a drop through cool dark to a nothingness of total peace?
Or did you spiral skyward past blossom and birds
to the embrace of a bride, and the blue of her miraculous eyes?
Victoria Field is a writer and poetry therapist based in Canterbury, Kent.