Clem Henricson

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. 

My Child

 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. 

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