Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Incident


When you were lying on the white sand,
a rock under your head, and smiling,
(circled by dead shells), I came to you
and you said, reaching to take my hand,
'Lie down.' So for a time we lay
warm on the sand, talking and smoking,
easy; while the grovelling sea behind
sucked at the rocks and measured the day.
Lightly I fell asleep then, and fell
into a cavernous dream of falling.
It was all the cave-myths, it was all
the myths of tunnel or tower or well -
Alice's rabbit-hole into the ground
or the path of Orpheus: a spiral staircase
to hell, furnished with danger and doubt.
Stumbling, I suddenly woke; and found
water about me. My hair was wet,
and you were lying on the grey sand
waiting for the lapping tide to take me:
watching, and lighting a cigarette.

***

Today I am having a lazy day. Tomorrow I have my final seminars and shift at Topshop and then I will be picked up on Friday by my sister and her boyfriend and driven home for the Christmas holidays. So, today I am organising my revision materials, printing useful articles, folding clothes and reading stray bits of things in bed while eating advent calendar chocolates.

I fancied reading some Fleur Adcock this morning and, remembering her pointed request to me 'not to read her juvenilia' when I had met her during Manchester Literature Festival, was pretty blown away by Incident, one of her earliest published poems. It's a remarkable poem that left me feeling very unsettled. What do you make of it? I wholly recommend everything by Adcock, she has a really sharp,witty, vaguely anecdotal style and when you read her poems you feel as though you're being allowed access to diary entries written over a lifetime by a highly observant and catty woman.

Photograph by me.

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