New Writing In Various Forms, edited by Michael Blackburn

The Review is now on permanent sabbatical.

Many thanks to those who contributed.

The rest, as the man said, is silence.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Three Poems by Judi Benson

Annie’s Swimming Lesson

She says she taught me to swim,
though teaching never came into it.
Plonk in the deep end,
relying on my need to breathe to bring me to the surface.
Did she count? Up to what?
Did she lose count,
get distracted by the hunky Life Guard,
leaving me to grow gills
on the aquamarine bottom of the pool.
Depths became my natural habitat,
while she skimmed the surface:
Oh look at the sails on that ship, whooshing past.
Still, I thank her for her rough handling of me,
inadvertently teaching me,
not to swim
but how to survive her,
find my own depths and keep breathing.

Love’s Logic

That first winter
I thought of digging you up,
couldn’t bear you down there shivering.
I was too mean in the end
to bury the blanket that I’d made.
Something from home, you’d said.
I’d get a spade and just….
What did I expect to find?

I’ve thought about that too
and what if it’s not you,
some other body or a box full of rocks –
not box, bamboo, a basket,
as if you were a Moses baby
afloat in some state of drifting
down a slow ribbon of water,
in another world we can’t see,
sunshine, leafy shade, shadows,
ribbles of wind, just there.


Twenty-five photographs
and not a single sound or word for it.
Some bird twittering.
White geese in a green field.
How to capture the blankness of sky,
what to do with it.
Not a single break in the foggy mist.
I stride along the path
beneath the bower of leaves, my gait
smooth as that duck’s glide on the glassy-eyed Nith.

And so, the green blinds me
refusing to name itself.
The Galloway hills roll and roll
trying to rise above the mist,
and the river runs its reflections of spectacular trees,
each a tangle of branches with leaves stuck on,
all competing to be the brightest ones.
Light, air, flocks of geese
struggling towards an alphabet that only sky can read.
Yes, my eyes are assaulted with all this, and pine too,
but what’s it matter without you.
I’d say, look at the smoky mist,
and you’d say, I’m part of that mist now.

Judi's poems have appeared in many magazines, anthologies and collections and for a number of years she edited Foolscap magazine. Her latest book is The Thin Places, published by Rockingham Press. Until recently she was a Writer in Residence at the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. Despite being Miss Di Nosaur when it comes to the internet, she actually has a podcast of some of her poems (and a fuller biography on that site as well). She lives in London.

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