3 excellent poems from the forthcoming collection Fever Few, which will be reviewed here in impspired when it is published
Is this the ebb, or flow? We are manacled in green the grass like an anchor, holding us to the earth new buds on the magnolias break through as the blossom sheds itself like skin cells. The moment is born, the moment dies, simultaneously. How is it that late in life, even after losses, the moment sings, symphonic. Like the time we watched the song thrush every speckle on its tiny chest as vivid and electric as a mark by an Expressionist. And then the blackbird, glossy and wet-ink black pulling a worm out of the lawn as if plucking a thread from the gleaming fabric of the day. Sometimes the age feels apocalyptic sometimes it feels as if we have just begun. Like on that early autumn evening when we stood with the waters around our toes a warm, glinting baptism, engulfing us and wondered, is the sea going out, or just coming in? This wave, these glinting luminous waters, is this the ebb, or flow? For so long I have been wanting to write about my mother’s garden but halleluiah is hard, elegy is easier and the poems keep chanting blue yet when she tells me that the next time I visit I can help her buy a bird feeder all the gold and greens intone immediately, and her spirit- the lofty, lolling over foxgloves of it the buttercup peppered lawn of it the nettles, the nicotiana, the single sunflower of it, blossom and bloom and the page resonates with a hymn of nettle leaf, poppy stalk, silken nap of rose and I am there with her choosing a contraption for the birds talking about how it will root into the earth how it will reach, bough like, above the wall so the cats can’t paw down their prey and how she will hang cylinders from it, like lanterns, full of grain, and the goldfinches will come down from the sky, yellow patched angels, eating the heart of the seeds, and then, another leap forward and here I am here writing this poem singing halleluiah with the small choir of the heart in the cool, white church that is this page. Leda, by the River What was born of it was half holy though it hurt when the cumulus cloud of feather came down, beaked and biting, webbed feet like black fans slapping, which of them was Leda, which was the swan? So many sons and daughters of Cygnus that first time they walked by the water nestled heads forming hearts, their roped necks arching like iced bridges glinting with snow. Countless swans reiterating the story of the winged and rapacious lover, one for each night they had perhaps. The canopy of silken white, the reaching beak – gold and brutal, a sky-born ecstasy of pain. The beating against their face, the sky falling in feathers as they offered themselves up to it again and again. Floundering You are offering to lend me some money when we see the young heron in the park. From behind it resembles a sprouting bulb with its long stem of neck. It reminds me of the tulips dad planted so we’d have colour after he had gone. The heron sits on the rock in front of us, and when a bulldog swaggers past, paws scuffing the ground like knuckles, you gasp. Having no fear is dangerous round here and the heron seems unsteady when it walks, has no idea how to hunt. It is perched on a lump of plastic that it seems to have mistaken for a rock and it belly flops into the water, comes out empty mouthed. We both know you can’t make a living from building poems. That thing it’s standing on isn’t even real. Mum, you have your purse out again, and that worried frown that dad used to have when he was looking at the tulip bulbs, wondering if they would come out in time.
Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox ( Indigo Dreams) Ghosting for Beginners ( Indigo Dreams), and the forthcoming Feverfew. ( Due Indigo Dreams Summer 2020). Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.