Last night saw us at Chapter, Cardiff, for July’s First Thursday event and among the readers was Caroline Smith with her new collection, The Immigration Handbook. This week we have a treat for you – you can listen to the Friday Poem being read by the author. Look below for the video, and accompanying poem text.
The strikingly moving poems in Caroline Smith’s The Immigration Handbook are the fruit of the author’s career as an Immigration Caseworker for one of the most diverse inner-city areas in London. Her characters are careful composites of people she’s observed. They step vividly off the page, as if out of the headlines. Written over a period of years, as layered and infused with experience as the documents she discusses: letters folded and refolded, creased with time, Caroline Smith’s poems are a moving record of global people movement, the story of our time.
The Scarlet Lizard
except the evening light
crossing the Judge’s room.
The lawyers’ skeleton arguments
lay piled on his desk.
They seemed to him brittle
as bleached poppies,
tapped of their seeds.
He longed to see the quick movement
of a scarlet lizard weaving unexpectedly
through the parched, cracked hexagons
of a legal phrase, to hear the snapped stick
fritter away from a hiding place;
to feel the cold, diaphanous weed grip
in the black current of a border crossing.
He needed to sense some quiver of
indecision, an odd detail
that would open the truth of their words;
chinks of light shining
through shuttered doors.
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