It’s almost time to ring in the New Year, and in keeping with the theme of leaving the past behind, our Friday Poem is ‘The Things She Burned That Year’ by Judy Brown, from her Poetry Book Society recommended collection, Crowd Sensations.
Crowd Sensations is a worthy follow-up to Judy Brown’s Forward-prize nominated debut, Loudness.
Brown is a poet of dazzling contrasts, of thoughtful paradox, intimate confidences and precise evocations. Her titles and first lines both draw you right into a poem and then quite often surprise you with a narrative that you hadn’t quite expected.
The Things She Burned That Year
Whole nights claimed her on sooty knees,
worshipping the heat of a first open fire.
She tended it with the caution of a mistress,
offered her past and part of her future.
She kindled her half-filled diary; each curling
page exposed the inky, unburned next.
All afternoon it read itself to the blaze,
settled down at dusk to a soft grey bed.
She was watching someone she knew grow old.
Then she’d fed the fire a banquet of porn
that she no longer had an attic to store.
The printed bodies, the breasts and cocks
were nibbled off by a bright green flame
before the paper charred in the usual way.
And the final text that lanterned out
in the beige-tiled fireplace flared so fast
that the thing she wanted to erase
was lost: even its capsicum name is dust.
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