With only twenty poems on twenty-six pages, I hesitate over whether to call Jane Wier’s, Alice, a modest book or a generous pamphlet, and really, is that important? What matters is the content. There is one poem in particular, ‘Brushing The Back of Your Hand’, that catches me.
It describes a moment in a cinema, as the film starts. The narrator and her companion take their seats, and in the darkness, their hands touch. Reduced to a bare description this sounds like nothing.
Take the line breaks out, and it is made up of two sentences. The truth is though, that good writing adds up to more, much more. These few words are carefully chosen. ‘All I remember’ she says, and I remember too.
as the picture rolled and figures
flickered, and your skin, your skin
felt scuffed going against its pile,
Poems remind me of the power words have not just to describe, but to evoke a response in their audience. So when I read those lines, what struck me first was the surprise implied by that repetition of ‘your skin’. What caught me, was the image of skin, ‘scuffed going against its pile’. Then, the ending is a moment that was both long ago, and is also getting closer and closer.
and I remember thinking,
one day soon, soon
that kind of hand would be mine.
What’s important to me, is that this tells a truth I had forgotten seeing for the first time.