Clem Henricson is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Honorary Senior Fellow University of East Anglia. She is a writer and philosopher and has directed a public policy institute advising international government on human rights and social relations. Widely published, her philosophical works include Morality and Public Policy, Psychology and the state we’re in and Making Space for Melancholy. Of Anglo Swedish heritage, she has written a North Sea Memoir. She contributes poems regularly to the Poetry Society’s Poetry@3 and has links to The Writer’s Center and Arvon. Her most recent published poem was written during the pandemic – A mid-Covid memory of a funeral as it should be.
Vitreous detachment – or detachment of the eye’s gel
Smokey feathers explosion in the eye hey presto a show backstage in a bag of black slime, bits of my vitreous wall catapulted in a circus shock into the amoeba of oil on water; thoughts swimming willy-nilly in a down of feather at the whim of a twitching eyeball. There’s an intruder in my eye, a firing squad of light; they’ve pinned my shutters open to see inside. Witnessing the bundle caught as a stamp on the eye, my doctor gives a pacifying pledge: “Have no fear the brain will adapt, magic the stuff away.” - I’ll not have it, I’ll not be fooled, the brain is an organ with power gone to its head; the hall mark should be scratched indelibly now before the trick is played out. Mental denial of my feathers in their amoeba frame would be an affront - the reverse of imagining the presence of a lopped off limb. We sit weeks later, my doctor and I, tete a tete in a grope of words, eye twitches, shuffles, postures, assertion, obeisance, classifications by the dozen, a swift impertinence, the laying and mislaying of character on each other as our presumptuous rapid response brain punches above its weight. I look at the man across the chair – his de rigueur courtesy as physically gauged in the scrubbed eloquent finger tips that would an hour from now cut in the anatomical realm, skip in a vat of liquid. “The retina requires operation” his hands will puddle in the eyeball meddle with the vitreous the feathers will be plied back so gently they will become part of the whole, the scoop of the eye and the rotunda of vision “They did not disappear then,” I smile wry, “the brain failed. It didn’t fool me – beyond its wit.” Triumphant, I catch his cognisant eye.
A fist sits as the yolk in my palm with a fit as curious as the inside of an egg my horny crags lie slippered round the melt and now the wrench: I feel the silk pucker as a purse squashed in my clutch. A train speeds greedy to snatch this soft girl from my grasp hammering down the line mangling the tangle of nerves in my neck stretched beyond bearing Until we cross the metallic line and board the train. Wires nervoso decamp. And we sit side by side in a metallic hold a safe house from which my tiny child cannot run. Hands uncurl for at least half an hour now the pressure is off. Wet fills the creases of our palms as they loose and my liberated eyes bestir; they stare at fellow travelers and imagine them as soft molluscs for the slicing disrobed squashiness full on nudes. My eyes rest on the man opposite suddenly his clothes pooled on the floor. All that is left is his portfolio borne on his back like a snail. I am a voyeur and stand accused in the court of indiscretion, but the obscenity is in the body; I plead Corpus as culprit soft on the outside with a futile inner frame misplaced un-protective bones that are simply stands for the draping, whereas had there been a proper armoury I should not have been tempted to laugh and cry at the absurdity of the construct. I scrape up my child in my arms and exit the train nerves back on cue and make our way through the hazards of metal, stone and glass to the museum of many bones and species long extinct.
The Bayeux Tapestry
(This record of the Battle of Hastings took years to complete.) I am threading the eye of a needle – a fraction of a second with the intense explosion of a body gripping minutiae slipping from its grasp a thousand, thousand fold over a decade of slipping the weave, stranglement of colours, netted butterflies strained to the cloth, flutterings curtailed shade differential stilled with the lethal pricks of needles digging in thumb and finger, trial by pain, boredom and a wrung out eye. The tapestry took a hundred times as long as the slush and dribble of paint - therein lies its worth; value is the still life of the weaver artists by the dozen holding the reins of fight, life, bestiary and weaponry - an ecstasy of movement drama lust in its drive ad absurdum, while the weaver artist sits with a deadly weight of repetition and entrapment stamping stillness on life.