Her hands had brought life to their coldnesses,

taught contours

that intimated language, a litheness.

Her practice was long.


The sculptress felt ready now;

repeatedly, she would stop and touch the raw stone,

feel the tension of skin,

the functioning tissue, the blood’s song.


She chose to carve those white leaves,

clasp them around her as

petals under the freezement of snowfall,

a preservation.


Encased wholly, she left herself to dream,

to hang the colours of her dreams

out to dry under a stone sun,

that they bleached to the whiteness of bone.


After a hundred winters

she knew she had failed; her colours remained

pale inside her,

the arteries and nerves, the powder-cold veins.


Being unable to move

behind the eyes of a figurine

she resolved to summon her dreams again

and pour them out as water


like rainwater that forces the stone

around catacombs, blood

that shapes the bone with its flow,

or hands that divine the statue’s mould.



And, slowly, a fountain trickles into life

amid the chalklines of memory

in a dark room of figures

somewhere in the vaults of a forgotten museum.




Really not sure what I was on about here, what the meaning was. Think of it as a sort of fairy tale. It’s a poem that, whilst containing really good parts, seems to add up to less than the sum of them. The result, perhaps of shaping the whole thing round an image or phrase which had come into my head, then just seeing where it led me. I did this quite a lot and I think that may have been the case with ‘Sculptress’ – it’s more a collection of semi-structured images than a coherent whole. Not exactly badly written (I really do still like the second and the ‘catacombs’ paragraphs a lot), but written to no real end, and while it sounds like there was an implicit or subconscious theme I can’t extract it now either. Feels like there was something better in there, some sort of parable, which I didn’t quite bring out. It had an alternative title, ‘The Fountain’s Birth’; not sure which one I like better. As you’re probably gathering, generally dissatisfied with this one!