But today at last - the promised poems!
You know how sometimes your dog or cat will have a 'mad hour' and go from peacefully snoozing on the end of the bed to running around in dizzy circles, thudding mysteriously under the furniture, trying to climb the curtains, and scrabbling at imaginary ghosts in the corners? Well, early this year the exact same thing happened to me, except instead of my cat or dog it was my brain, and instead of trying to eat my own tail I wrote poetry.
Look, just go with me here, all right?
As a teenager who was bursting with ideas and thoughts but had not yet developed the ability to finish a longer piece of work (I couldn't even complete short stories) poetry was my number one means of creative expression and refuge. I sometimes wrote three new poems a day, for weeks at a time. I loved poetry and it was as natural to me as breathing.
But when I started channeling my writing juice into novels, slowly but surely that flood of poetry slowed down to a trickle. Those who've read my books know that there are often songs and poems and ballads in there, but those are about expressing things about my character's world or feelings, rather than about putting my own thoughts and feelings onto the page. Up until January, February and March of this year it had been probably a decade since I wrote any poetry that came directly from me, rather than filtered through the lens of what a character was going through.
Then, during the snowy and miserably cold early months of this year - well known and hated by all Britishers under the name The Beast from the East - when I was stuck on Selkie Book (having had to drop it really abruptly when edits for The Hand, the Eye & the Heart appeared) and quite often also stuck on a train for long periods, travelling back and forth to my Fellowship in York, that closed sluice gate on my poetry brain creaked opened juuuust a tiny bit. I found myself scribbling lines of poetry, then verses, and eventually full poems. By the end of that miserable weather system I had a good handful of new stuff, which I worked on fitfully while I slowly got back to work on Selkie Book again.
And then I saw a notice that the Bridport Poetry Prize was open for entries. And I thought 'What the Hell?' I picked out my favourite four poems, worked on them feverishly for a week or so, and sent them off. Lo and behold! They did not win. But I still really like them and feel especially fond of them because that poetry gate in my brain seems to have creaked shut again now. So I thought I'd share a few of them with you now.
I hope you like them! Let me know your thoughts in the comments, lovelies - or share poems you're working on now, if you like :)
THE GREEN GIRL
the wild iris embraces you
though he would not.
And you are silent now
but the wind singing in the moon-grey bullrushes,
and the rising heron
speak your name.
you are shrouded
by reflections of the sun.
And dragonflies shall take flight
from the ivory cage
which imprisoned your frail human heart.
as your face fades
from his memory,
do not fear.
The green river remembers the green girl.
The waters know who you are.
People who tell you
That time heals
Time doesn't accrete scars over anyone's grief
Only accustoms them to the pain
You might adapt to living without one of your limbs
And others will learn
To stop staring
At the empty space that follows you around
You'll figure out how to do the impossible
How to live now
Dress yourself again
Make coffee, make jokes, make a bed
But time cannot regrow what was lost
And sometimes, years and years later sometimes
When you had grown so adept at telling yourself
That you had forgotten
Or moved on
Or achieved closure
Or whatever vacuous thing the liars call it now
You will speak, unthinkingly
And in the silence that follows you will expect
For one breath
For just for one tiny infinity
That voice, that voice, that voice, to answer
And then you will feel the agony
Of the phantom limb, and know
Time heals nothing
Only teaches you how to pretendThat you were never whole