Scottish Writers' Centre Blog

The Scottish Writers' Centre is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, number SC040823.

International Women’s Day Poetry Book Launch Update

The launch in March went very well and several people asked to see the poem ‘Signalling’ by Amy Anderson and A C Clarke posted on our blog, so here it is. The poem, conceived as a dialogue between a younger and an older woman, is a joint production by Amy Anderson (who poses the questions) and A C Clarke, who offers the answers.

Signalling

Knowing when the clouds will greet their soft welcome

Knowing is for the young.  I know only

that rain, lashing rain, with an ice in its heart

storms out of the blue, that I cannot tell

where sunlight will strike.

How to make the sun a compass

Getting lost, an art I’ve never mastered,

goes beyond pointers:  sun, moon, stars.

Getting lost means having the nerve

to walk in circles, backwards,

over the edge. Trusting.

How to tell vision from illusion

Don’t try. Who knows

if the mad prophet’s beard

streams in the wind of his babble

or blown by the breath of the spirit?

Put out your hand to the dark.

How to read what is behind the mist

Behind-the-mist looms larger

than the patch of light we move in,

assumes the shape of dragon

or insurmountable cliff. There is no

looking ahead, only a path

you happen to take, finding later

the words to make it fit.

Knowing when to let the river carry away cherished things

Rinse your hands and watch the water

swirl your old skin away.

You do not step in the same hour twice

and all those things you carry at your heart

change with your blood.

Knowing when I should be still

I’d take lessons from a cat

which gives itself to sleep

with its whole being

lets itself fall

like a cushion,

at the last moment

brakes on its claws.

To know myself like childhood landscape

Childhood was orangejuice thick and sweet

as medicine, Vick’s vapour rub

stroked on in the light of a coalfire

coupons and everlasting

corned beef: a landscape

that doesn’t change.

I hope I never know my contours

so well I’m never taken by surprise.

To let my dark see the light

My dark sees the light

in the white ghost-shapes of words

poems which are

the other side of the self

slowly developing.

To let words fly away like egrets

would be a grace.

I strain too hard

to cage them.

When the fire in the grate will not flame

Strike matches until a stray spark kindles.

Go for a walk or a sleep and let the fire

light in its own time.

When I am an island on a cold continent

I remember every man (woman too)

is an island. We signal each other

like lighthouses

across acres of dark water,

guessing co-ordinates,  unaware

how close the pattern of our flashes.

When I am finally alone

The world will have ended.

While the world lives

no final,  no alone.

Even if I were barricaded

behind decades of waste

in a single room

part of me would be handed

to the future.

2 Comments»

  Ellen McAteer wrote @

Wonderful. How sorry I was not to be able to be there – but thank you for sharing this part of it with us all! Words to take to heart.

  Kriss Nichol wrote @

This is beautiful and has inspired me to try this form. Thank you for sharing this poem with me. All the best


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: