25 February 2013

Tuesday Poem: 'Incident' by Fleur Adcock


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 suitcase 
To hell, furnished with danger and doubt.
Stumbling, I suddenly woke; and found
Water about me. My hair was wet,
And you were sitting on the grey sand,
Waiting for the lapping tide to take me:
Watching, and lighting a cigarette.

Fleur Adcock

I’m the editor of the Tuesday Poem blog this week, and I’m excited to have been able to share ‘Crayfish’, a new poem by Fleur Adcock – one of my poetic heroes. As I say over there, I was lucky enough to have read with her and Anna Jackson in London last year. Hearing her new poems sent me back to her old poems, and I recently re-read Tigers (Oxford University Press, 1967), which was Fleur’s second poetry collection.

I first discovered Fleur’s poetry in the later years of high school, and this was one of the collections I read and reread. Reading it again now, I can very much see why it appealed to me. I was a somewhat melancholy and romantic child, and I adored myth and surrealism (still do, though I’ve ditched most of the romanticism and quite a lot of the melancholy) and this book has those in spades, as does ‘Incident’, which is probably my favourite poem in this collection. In this, and in many of the other poems, there’s an underlying darkness. Other people aren’t to be trusted. Don’t close your eyes, or there’ll be nightmares, and when you wake someone might be watching you with mild interest, waiting for you to drown.

Do go check out the brand new poem by Fleur at the hub blog: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.co.nz/, and there you’ll also find lots more Tuesday Poems in the sidebar.

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