Sophie Mayer writes passionately and politically about poetry and film anywhere and everywhere she can, including Horizon Review, Esprit de Corps, Blackbox Manifold, Sight & Sound, Little White Lies and Artesian. She blogs about reading as Delirium’s Librarian, and is a regular contributor to the review blog for Chroma journal, where she is commissioning editor. Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009), her first solo poetry collection, was the auspicious start to a very exciting three-book year, followed by The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love (Wallflower, 2009)and (as co-editor) There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking and Beyond (Wayne State University Press, 2009). Her next collection, The Private Parts of Girls, will be published by Salt in 2011, and she has future plans for encounters between poetry and film. Visit Sophie’s website.
Rearranging the Stars
after Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient
Lost you. Out here, where a call to prayer shivers
stone into song, where night falls like knives,
there’s a trick to the sky, how you see it, smell
what’s coming. It is like reading. It’s so small
at first, and granular, then overwhelms: eyes,
mouth, hands, hair. You cannot possibly sleep.
But you do, lulled by wind and waking. Stories –
his stories, more stories than there could be stars –
breathe around you with their shine, draw hearts
on dirty glass. You know what they find in deserts:
fragments. Texts under sand winds, brilliant disasters.
And you, in secret, on fire with new constellations.
Previously published in Staple 71: The Art Issue (Summer 2009).
pieuvres / lèvres (lilies / lips)
Did I realise then that I would spend my whole life
with their lipstick on my face. Other girls and their kisses
goodbye. I know that now, having watched soft asses
walk away from me, having been paid my tithe
for watchful quiet. For the flattery of desire. Ingrown
hair, that’s what it’s like: turning against the razor
blade and on itself. Like my toes, curled mazily
through each other with waiting, waiting that flows
up my calves and out my mouth. A shower in reverse:
a fountain, inwards out: And what was in her,
I felt that too. All her hardness in my fingers
rattling her stem. All those flower words, perverse
euphemisms for a force like an ocean
in a swimming pool. Did she not see
what poured out of (her into) me? Salt of her sea,
stick of her sap. And it’s not the explosion
that I’m talking about, her wet cunt a concrete
underpass around my hand. It’s the light that thrums
from her lily-mouth, her pollinated tongue
extended like a stamen. Like a beesting hot-sweet
under the skin, a tear oozing from an eye. An ingrown
hair turning outwards against skin tough as petals
under drops of rain. The pain of it like cold metal,
like waiting. The stem of spit plunges down
and you wonder that such softness does such hurt.
No softness in the doing: spit’s active as a limb,
a cock, a race, a city street. It dances itself thin.
The stem of things. Wet birth. My first.
Buy Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009) here.