16 Days of Action – Day 13
This is the other poem in the sequence that I don’t usually read out loud.
I wrote this at Treloyhan Manor Hotel, in St Ives. I was tutoring a residential there with the poet Clare Shaw. She led a kind of visualisation exercise, and I wrote this poem.
It was one of two poems that I wrote in her workshop – along with the course participants – the other one is the title poem of the sequence, and will appear here in three days time.
I’ve said thank you to Clare before, but I won’t get tired of it. She was one of the first people I showed these poems to as a whole sequence and I honestly don’t think I would have published them without her support.
I’d already sent the ‘final’ version of the manuscript to Amy Wack, my editor at Seren, but I sent her this poem, and the other poem, because I knew they belonged with the others.
Part of trauma theory talks about part of you remaining in the time and place where the trauma took place. I hadn’t read anything around trauma theory when I wrote this poem though.
Poetry can go back to that place and put a fence and a border around it, can contain it a little, so it isn’t just leaking out into and onto everything else.
All of these poems did this for me. I often describe them as my shields that I put between myself and the world.
I said in an earlier post (I think) that there is a lot of knowing in these poems.
They are also a reaching towards knowing and a figuring out.
I know this bus stop, the green and flaking paint of it.
I know this road I have to cross, I know the traffic
rushing past. I know these seven steps. I know
this door, its weight, its tone as it speaks in anger.
I know this hallway, the hexagon tiles, red and black
and red and black. I know this second door.
I know what it is for the body to open one door
then the other while the heart stays silent.
I know these floorboards. I know what it is
to lie here, the body like a boat, caught by its heels
in a harbour. I know what it is to kneel here
as if in prayer, if prayers were ever full of tears.
Ten years on, it’s almost heady to look back,
see myself kneeling on the floor, watching
the hysterical skittering of the phone.
His voice, trapped and low: pick up the phone.
You’d better pick up the fucking phone.
I know the top of my head, I know my shoulders,
can see how everything I knew is scattered
across the floor, like love and all the weight of it.
I know this room. I know that sofa, the orange of it,
this patient waiting. I know how it feels to walk
backwards into it. I know this place. I leave my self
down there, kneeling, still alone.