I think I have mentioned elsewhere that I’m a little surprised and humbled at the company I’m keeping as a contributor to the Poem of the North. Most of the other poets are well-established, with a litany of publication credits in magazines, competition wins and often pamphlets or full collections already published.
Sarah James (a.k.a. S.A.Leavesley) appears to be one of the most prolific of the contributors so far, and although I’ve enjoyed most of the poems that have been published so far, Sarah’s is among my favourites both to read, and as a prompt for my own response which I really enjoyed writing. I think that has at least something to do with the multi-faceted echoes created by my responding to a poem that itself is responding to a Dylan Thomas piece (which, as it happens, was brought out of the shadows by my poetry MA tutor, Prof. John Goodby) which appears to have itself been a response to a series of pictures, published in Lilliput magazine, which I have a minor obsession about as the source of the photograph that inspired the early logo of Cocteau Twins.
They offer me their pictures: his, chilled dreams,
eight splinters of ice in the heart; and hers,
a liquid twilit drowning wave; and his,
owl-tongues in aspic, dust on the North Star;
and hers, a languid now she knows as then.
Hear those words: drip, idle, stroll, linger —
wasting, stretching, holding-off; they ooze
sweet flesh, tacky with lightness and regret.
The shredded peach hides hardness: a stone, a seed.
Those ice shards do their work, then melt away.
Pipistrelles roost. Only children hear what they say.
I’m still not sure which ending I prefer, although both carry the point that pipistrelle calls are at a frequency that most adults cannot hear, but children can. Which makes me think of all the other things which can’t complete the trite slogan ‘It’s never too late to…’
(And also, rhyme, or not to rhyme?