Image

 

As I took those three steps forward

the glass slivers

cut into my arms,

 

into my chest.

I started to shiver.

 

How the shards of glass

grow inside my skin

so gently

(the feelers of a plant

that quietly twine

between slats of a fence).

 

Cold liquid glass

slow-fills my lungs

as if I were drinking the sky

from a half-frozen rock pool.

 

There are no clouds

in this country of windows.

 

Light-refracting,

the contours of my face

turn to ice-like glass

(I hold so many secrets)

(I cannot stop now).

 

Behind me is the shadow

of a two-dimensional figure

that looks a little like once did,

or might have done.

It’s hard to tell.

 

The oxygen must have vanished

from such a silent world.

Even the colours have disappeared.

 

Inside the glass is where all things breathe.

Light seeps through living material

like chalcedony,

like infra-red,

like phosphorescence underneath

miles of a glass sea.

 

I am walking in a world

where everything is familiar,

everything remembered.

 

This strange flowing glassware

covers me like a river of skin.

This was one I liked; I put it on the first page of a booklet I once made for friends and thought I’d start with it again. What I’d forgotten was quite how stark the style was, almost ascetic (in common with quite a few of the other poems). Several of the images I was pleased with and still look pretty good I think. It shows the influence of the wonderful Pauline Stainer, who I had read quite a bit of and was one of my biggest and I would now say best influences. The best, in fact. The other influence was Pascale Petit, who was then relatively unknown, though on her way to renown. I had a different poem commended in a competition and included in the resulting booklet of prizewinners and other poems that the judges liked. Pascale had a poem in the same book, which immediately struck me as being far better than any of the others (surely it was a prizewinner? I can’t remember, but it appeared again in her book ‘Heart of a Deer’). Like a number of Pauline Stainer’s poems, it was about ice, snow and glaciers, with the sort of cold, crystalline imagery I tried to transfer to glass here. It was called ‘The Frozen Waterfall’ and the fantastically good last two lines were: “the icicles hang down like sheets/from a bed which has been tipped upwards”. The final two lines of ‘WIT Mirror’ were a conscious attempt to create the same effect for the ending (I’m trying to avoid using the word ‘copy’!).

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