Sifting Poetry Books

I have already mentioned that I part with some of my books from time to time. I do not want my home to be a place where no-one can move for books on every surface. I have three decent sized bookshelves, and that, it seems to me is enough.  The process of sifting through the books, thinning them out, as I was today, often throws up something I have forgotten entirely, especially very slender volumes, almost booklets, which have been swallowed up between bigger, fatter books. Poetry often comes in little books like that. Some of my favourites are written by relatively unknown poets and one of them I came across today was The Town Beyond the World, by my late poet friend Dot Clancy. Dot was a committed poet and this particular book was a love letter to New Quay where she lived as did my family and myself. It is in two halves, Summer and Winter and as I read it the acute memory of the seasonal extremes under which we lived rushed back to me.  Several hundred people live there throughout the year, making up what is called the population, but many thousands spend the summer there and their presence transforms everything. This she captured brilliantly in her book.

Somewhere in the world is a collection of Dot’s poems though I cannot trace it and she wrote several poems to me, which would not be included in it. When my late husband died after a long illness, she sent this one to me. It is typical of the flavour of her work and I am moved every time I read it. The simplicity of the words, the conjured image of a journey, the sense of new beginnings whilst clutched in the pain of an ending, and the undeniable lingering breath of sadness at the brevity of it all make it, to me, a perfect short piece.

The Life Train stopped

and Marsh stepped off

into new horizons

and only we left behind

heard the ticking time

and felt the mirrored pain

while destination bound

we picked over the pieces

and built his memory

to share and heal

ourselves.

 

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