This week our Friday Poem is taken from the brand new, beautiful Crowd Sensations by Judy Brown. A Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Crowd Sensations is the worthy follow-up to Judy’s Forward Prize-nominated debut, Loudness.
Judy Brown is a poet of vivid contrasts, of thoughtful paradox, intimate confidences and precise evocations. Her titles and first lines draw readers into a poem then often surprise with an unexpected narrative. A key theme in this new collection is the contrast between living in the city and the countryside; her take on landscape is original and characteristically unnerving: ‘Elterwater Rain’, ‘Dove Cottage Ferns’ and ‘One of the Summer People’ reflect on nature and the place of the traveller, the incomer, the tourist.
When I came to write of it there was no rain,
just the last of its ectoplasm shivering
in a pool on the terrace’s lowest slate.
No sky winks in the left-behind liquid,
only the garden table’s black metal underside –
all is prediction, absence, an oracle’s glum vigil –
whilst the air, hyperactive, holds more weather:
weather folded in weather, the rest of the day
remains to be dealt like a deck of wet cards.
Town rain splits and skids but this land accepts
what is given. Foliage moves against foliage;
water drains down the conifers’ inner ladders.
Something thirsts for each substance spilled
but this liquid is neighbourly, a local’s drink.
Outside Ambleside’s tourist shops, dog-bowls
brim with downpour. Here the last shower
hangs about too, old drops slung like bats
from the bird-feeder and the patio chairs.