I have written before of the wonderful Reading Matters group I was, and still am, lucky enough to be part of (we call it ‘Reading Still Matters’ now that the Royal Literary Fund have moved on to other projects). The leader of our group was the wonderful poet and dramatist Julia Copus, a past winner of the Forward Prize and author of three collections; the most recent of which, ‘The World’s Two Smallest Humans’, was shortlisted for both the Costa and T.S. Eliot prizes. I went to the launch, and was lucky enough to hear Julia read her work and I treasure my signed copy. Through Reading Matters she has inspired me to read much more widely in the wonderful world of contemporary poetry.
Her love poem that I do so wish I had written was first published in The Spectator in 2008 – A Soft-edged reed of light. Her soft voice loads the words with additional meaning, so do listen to it here, on The Poetry Archive website. but it is no less wonderful to mouth the words, quietly, to oneself…..
A Soft-edged reed of light
That was the house where you asked me to remain
on the eve of my planned departure. Do you remember?
The house remembers it – the deal table
with the late September sun stretched on its back.
As long as you like, you said, and the chairs, the clock,
the diamond leaded lights in the pine-clad alcove
of that 1960s breakfast-room were our witnesses.
I had only meant to stay for a week
but you reached out a hand, the soft white cuff of your shirt
open at the wrist, and out in the yard,
the walls of the house considered themselves
in the murk of the lily-pond, and it was done.
Done. Whatever gods had bent to us then to whisper,
Here is your remedy – take it – here, your future,
either they lied or we misheard.
How changed we are now, how superior
after the end of it – the unborn children,
the mornings that came with a soft-edged reed of light
over and over, the empty rooms we woke to.
And yet if that same dark-haired boy
were to lean towards me now, with one shy hand
bathed in September sun, as if to say,
All things are possible – then why not this?
I’d take it still, praying it might be so.
Simple; story telling; sends shivers down my spine.
I have two more poems to post in this series as we approach St Valentine’s Day on Thursday. The posts haven’t had as many views as I thought they would. I am not sure why that is – are we less romantic as a species than I thought we were? Is the climate – economic and weather – so cold and gloomy that romance is ‘off the cards’? Seems a shame if that is so. David over at The Dad Poet is doing his best to help me spread the word about the poetry we both love so much, but I obviously need more help! If you love poetry, love this poem – give it a plug. I am not just out for a big ego trip and blog stats aren’t my favourite obsession but go on – poetry heals, it really does. And boy do we need love and healing right now.