Friday Poem – ‘Fish. Oh. Fish’ by Judy Brown


This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Fish. Oh. Fish’ by Judy Brown from her forthcoming collection Lairs.

This cover shows a collage of a woman sitting in a field at twilight starting at a giant black orb, in the distance, filled with stars. Red mountains stretch out behind it. The text reads Lairs Judy Brown.

Lairs brings together something primal and secret – the lair as haven for a wild or feral animal – with the poem framed as a mathematical equation. In these terms, the ‘lair’ is a kind of nest, a beautiful accumulation of dense detail. The poems are introspective, by turns mocking, fearful and analytical. Judy Brown’s use of language is innovative, while maintaining moments of vulnerability and moving self-awareness. In these exquisite poems, the lair is both the community at large and a dark and intricate interior space where something wild still survives.

Fish. Oh. Fish
‘Even snakes lie together’ – D.H. Lawrence (‘Fish’)
Your egg eye is open and you look worried.
You’re the scaly junior lawyer at midnight
f
alling short on her target of a year’s billable hours.
Corporate fish, you’re bright as pain, sliced up.
You share the water with a spill of inky stripes.
Y
our kind blaze colours fine as banknotes.
Oh, fish, you have whisked up a clever curve
defining the future as it draws itself into a fist.
Then the e
vening comes on, pistachio and blue.
You breathe and flex between bars of dark.
A clerk could still walk into the hot, open night
lea
ving a jacket on the back of her office chair.
A lit anglepoise floats above the papery desk.
There’s a deep anglerfish clocking the hours.
No one m
ust turn off your light while you are gone
or there’ll be nothing to swim back to
but a scrunchie of kelp, uncounted on dry sand.
Little fish,
everything that matters happens here.

Lairs is available to pre-order on the Seren website: £9.99

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