Roy Woolley divides his time between Derby and London. His work appears in the Oxford Initiate anthology and in various magazines. A version of ‘Galton’s Sight’ is currently part of an exhibition in the Oxford Museum of Science.
He’s spent a week watching cloud-shapes
unfold on the hill-side in order to estimate
their density, the composition of future rain,
the refractive index of wet skin after a downpour.
He measures everything: the separate shades of green
in the serving dish, the average weight of clocks
in the houses he visits, the changes in his packed body
as it moves through the seasons,
words cooling in mirrors like ferns in ice-water.
He wants the pattern behind these events
made clearer with repetition
like the nature of God released by a mantra.
He’s distilled language to its expressive bones
and layers each page with diagrams in rows
to track the features these histories yield,
the new ways of seeing he’s clarified and named.
He folds a map of the sky into his head
and works out the twists and spills
of water going backwards in a cyclone.
The lines intersecting in his skull
converge to a golden child he’ll describe late in life
when he writes the novel his niece will burn.
He hears colours unlocked by the word,
tastes the shape each sense can make.
His time in Africa is the note that tells of beginnings
a darkness that makes each fingerprint burn bright
as a name, as clear as the star orchestrating the weather,
this other ‘great bell ringing out light’.
Roy Woolley has had poems published in The Wolf, The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, Poetry News and the anthology Saturday Night Desperate from Ragged Raven Press. He also compiled a pamphlet celebrating ten years of the Gay London Writers’. He recently graduated with distinction from the Mst in Creative Writing at Oxford University.
from The Pasiphaë Treatment
Scene 1. An open field. A white bull grazing.
Haunches muscular and clean.
Pasiphaë is helped from the carriage by a servant.
Close-up. Her face as she studies the bull.
The rope in her hands. Fade-out. Country sounds.
Scene 2. Flashback to the cord she wears at her wedding.
Brassy light. Crowds in the forecourt. The tinnitus
of instruments being tuned. Soft snowfall
of flowers at her feet. Her husband’s backward glance
as a bridesmaid leans over the balcony.
Scene 4. The present. Her room in the palace. Night.
Her face in the mirror. The stars above Crete.
Close-up to the costume Daedulus made –
a white sheet to cushion her body.
The horns for her temples. The cool felt mask.
Scene 9. She’s in the mirror again, facing herself
sideways, tracing the shape of her belly
with the palms of her hands. Night songs.
The city shutting down. The sound of the sea.
She feels her child move when she looks at the stars.
Scene 15. Fade to the balcony spyglass. A room
draped in black. Mirrors facing the wall.
The scars on her hands. Her bandaged breasts.
Her deep set eyes. The camera pans across the city.
Construction sounds grow louder. Our first sight of the maze.