Academic journal article Field

Electric Light

Academic journal article Field

Electric Light

Article excerpt

Candle grease congealed, dark-streaked with wick-soot.

Rucked alps from above. The smashed thumbnail

of that ancient mangled thumb was puckered pearl,

moonlit quartz, a bleached and littered Cumae.

In the first house where I saw electric light

she sat with her fur-lined felt slippers unzipped,

year in, year out, in the same chair, and whispered

in a voice that at its loudest did nothing else

but whisper. We were both desperate

the night I was left to stay with her and wept

under the clothes, under the waste of light

left turned on in the bedroom. "What ails you, child,

what ails you, for God's sake?" Urgent, sorrowing

ails, far-off and old. Scaresome cavern waters

lapping a boatslip. Her helplessness no help.

Lisp and relapse. Eddy of sibylline English.

Splashes between a ship and dock, to which,

animula, I would come alive in time

as ferries churned and turned down Belfast Lough

towards the brow-to-glass transport of a morning train,

the very "there-you-are-and-where-are-you?"

of poetry itself. Backs of houses

like the back of hers, meat safes and mangles

in the railway-facing yards of fleeting England,

an allotment scarecrow among patted rigs,

then a town-edge soccer pitch, the groin of distance,

fields of grain like the Field of the Cloth of Gold,

tunnel gauntlet and horizon keep. …

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