17 May 2010

Tuesday Poem: Two sisters whisper after lights out

Two sisters whisper after lights out

drops of icy water
into the pool of dark
slick knife
a rush

The tap tap tapping of the keys
are little marching feet
are drops of icy water
pert and ordered

the other jumps straight in
submerged, surrounded
she drinks it all in
feels it against her skin
she doesn’t need saving

“I loved once
but not well
he never knew, and
I couldn’t understand
I jumped, I fell, I couldn’t swim”

“Do I have a voice?
The dead often do
talking louder from the other side
than ever before
I could even shout
if I wanted
but you quickly learn to forgive”

A dark, woody sound
like music in the room
next to the room
next to the room
next to where

This poem was published in the latest issue of Takahe magazine (no. 69), which is just out. And, despite my best efforts, I can't get this to display correctly even though I tried using correct html and all and my old friends - every second stanza should be indented, with other extra indenting. Have a look in Takahe 69, and it'll all make sense.

Anyway, I'm quite fond of this poem, because after I wrote it I completely forgot about it. And then I had the odd and, for me, uncommon experience of rediscovering this poem I had no recollection of writing, and no idea what it was about. I read it totally from the outside, which is so unusual for my own work. It seemed quite mysterious and haunty, and made some weird kind of sense to me, even though I couldn't remember what sparked it.

After reading it over a few times, some cogs in my brain started recalling things, and I eventually remembered that it was inspired by a movie I'd seen. I won't say which one, because then it might seem too bounded by literalness, but if you guess I might give you a chocolate fish.

Check out the other Tuesday poets here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/.


Tim Jones said...

I enjoyed this poem - especially its mysterious quality - when I read it in Takahe, and it's good to see it here as well.

Blogger's resistance to formatting is annoying - it's stopped me publishing a couple of Tuesday Poems I would otherwise have used.

The movie probably isn't "Aliens", but you never know.

harvestbird said...

A ma soeur?

Helen Rickerby said...

Thanks Tim. And no, sorry, not Aliens.

Harvestbird, nope, not A ma soeur. I haven't seen that movie - what is it about?

harvestbird said...

It's a grim, grim drama by Catherine Breillat about two teenage sisters whose family is on holiday. The older is the butterfly attracting (disastrously) the attention of boys while the younger, whose point-of-view drives the narrative, lives to an extent vicariously through her sister's experiences. There's a shock ending (hence my thinking of it at "The dead often do / talking louder from the other side")

Mary McCallum said...

sisters whisper after lights out - what a marvellously evocative few words - I love the water in the poem - the tapping - the 'dark woody sound like music' - the final stanza is especially good, thanks Helen

Harvey Molloy said...

I know the word is overused but I love the gothic quality here--the play of who speaks, who hears, who is actually present, who lives and whose voice is remembered.