Reading poetry: Jane Wier’s, ‘Brushing The Back of Your Hand’

Alice by jane weirWith 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.

Time_exploding salvador Dali

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

 

 

Writer’s Block

Everything’s off.
In the white heat of construction
thoughts fail.
The computer blinks:
other words beckon,
in books and stories I wish I had written.

But too late, for time works relentless,
tick-tocks like sand particles,
granular time. In time,
on time, outside in the grass
where childhood books were consumed,
pages torn and chewed in my desire
to absorb their worlds.

Old books with embossed covers.

Hand-me-down stories, solid stories
published by Children’s Press or Blackie
and glued to the fly leaves, glossy award plates
named and dated prize pupils
from an age of geometry, matriculation and scriptures.

Their pages were thick and soft.
I got close to those fibres
and the sharp edges of graceful alphabets,
racing from illustration to desert Island
breathless, as footsteps stretched across empty beaches
and bloody cries echoed through pristine glades
the sunshine hot on my neck.

Are you ready? I think I can write, now.

 

*(As mentioned in my last post, a poem read at the festival)

On Leaving School

He grew strong on the farm.
Was handy shovelling on the right side
or the left.
‘Worth a bonus, that,’ old Fred said,
as they emptied the pigsty,
‘if we were navies.’

Best of all he liked tractor work,
sitting in the cab with a fag
and the radio.

His world was the turning of turf,
a shiny plough-share slicing a neat row
from hedge to ditch.

Years disappeared that way.