The Bereavement of the Lion-Keeper
for Sheraq Omar
Who stayed, long after his pay stopped,
in the zoo with no visitors,
just keepers and captives, moth-eaten,
growing old together.
Who begged for meat in the market-place
as times grew hungrier,
and cut it up small to feed him,
since his teeth were gone.
Who could stroke his head, who knew
how it felt to plunge fingers
into rough glowing fur, who has heard
the deepest purr in the world.
Who curled close to him, wrapped in his warmth,
his pungent scent, as the bombs fell,
who has seen him asleep so often,
but never like this.
Who knew that elderly lions
were not immortal, that it was bound
to happen, that he died peacefully,
in the course of nature,
but who knows no way to let go
of love, to walk out of sunlight,
to be an old man in a city
without a lion.
from Later Selected Poems (Seren, 2009).
Read more about Sheenagh’s Later Selected Poems.
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Pascale Petit has an interesting interview on her new blog. Romanian MA student, Oana-Teodora Ionesco, interviews the French/Welsh poet about her latest collection, The Treekeeper’s Tale (Seren, 2008).
On her blog, Pascale has also posted photographs and accounts of her trips to Venezuela’s Lost World as well as an article about translating Yang Lian’s ‘The Valley and the End: A Story’.
For fans of Frida Kahlo, Pascale’s fifth collection, What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo, is to be published in June 2010.
Read the interview by Oana-Teodora Ionescu here.
Visit Pascale’s blog and website.
Cult of the Eye
Then I glanced over the treetops, the miles of pasture
the window shows me again and again,
and soon I began to believe the window –
I became a votary in the cult of the eye and the cult
of transparency, because after we spoke
I used a form of to be as an equal sign: you were transparent.
I gleefully forbore the scepticism of seemed.
Admittedly, I nearly said you appeared transparent,
but I put my ear to the window’s mantra
and asseverated your sincerity without reserve.
If this is a love poem, that’s because I’m ready to love everybody.
I’ll gaze on the miles of pasture as the sun descends
and never think I must kneel in the dampening grass –
and you’ll refrain, just for now, from remarking on my naiveté.
First published in Poetry Review and included in The Tethers
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25 November 2005
A white day
to go: November slipping
or jaundiced, brittle with frost.
even now, not drowned in flesh,
but turned to gold,
skin beaten out
to the thinnest leaf,
a god’s mask,
if gods could die
or come to grief. That sheen,
as if death
burned off the slag, left only
the right metal,
the flash of talent, the joy
speeding and weaving
to its goal,
baffling all challenge, laughing
at its gift.
We grow up:
put away childish things, stop
hoping for fame
same as the rest. But just
now and then,
a man rises
above everyday, a man
and we fly
a little way on his uplift.
he comes down
in the end to ruin?
It is the brief
the leaving earth, that lives,
as when a boy,
still glowed from having once
touched the sun.
This poem was first published in PN Review. It appears in Sheenagh Pugh’s current collection, Long-Haul Travellers (Seren, 2008).
Order your copy of Long-Haul Travellers here or here.
Visit Sheenagh’s website.