We’d like to wish you a very happy Easter, and in celebration our Friday Poem today is ‘Chinese Lacquer Egg’ by Deryn Rees-Jones.
‘Chinese Lacquer Egg’ first featured in TS Eliot Prize-shortlisted Burying the Wren, and more recently in What It’s Like to Be Alive: Selected Poems. ‘Something is beginning’, it starts: there is a change, in outlook as well as nature. With intense lyricism the poet calls on the Roethkean ‘small things’ of the universe – birds, flowers, eggs – mysterious, and magical as well as ordinary.
What It’s Like to Be Alive features poems from Burying the Wren and four other collections, showcasing the arc of development in her writing over twenty-five years as she visits and revisits the concerns that are the mainstay of her writing: memory, love, desire, and heartbreak in all its manifestations.
A Chinese Lacquer Egg
Something is beginning. We feel it in the raw edges
of our dreams, our bodies hostage to light, to weather.
It is filling us with the weight of summer
which floats like helium through our wintered bones.
We wonder at it all, surprised by warmth, a sudden downpour –
the ruffled line of birdsong, a forgotten bulb
forcing its way through sodden earth towards the sun.
Or this Chinese lacquer egg, which appeared one morning
in my outstretched palm. Beyond the sound
of aeroplane or train, as we drift asleep, hands cupped
to the pillow, it shares its oval mysteries. Listen!
Between breath and silence it is showing itself.
In these shortened nights it is not unlike rapture,
an unworded prayer its indelible hum.
What It’s Like to Be Alive is available from the Seren website: £12.99
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This week our Friday Poem is ‘Making Out’ by Deryn Rees-Jones, which originally appeared in her second collection, Signs Round a Dead Body, and also features in her generous new What It’s Like to Be Alive: Selected Poems.
Both collections (along with Deryn’s other books The Memory Tray, Quiver, And You, Helen and Burying the Wren) are half price until midnight on Sunday, 9th October as part of our National Poetry Day sale.
What It’s Like to Be Alive marks a mid-career milestone in the life of this highly-acclaimed writer. From the poems written in her teens and early twenties included in her exciting debut The Memory Tray to her most recent exploration of time and grief, we see the arc of development in her writing over twenty-five years as she visits and revisits the concerns that are the mainstay of her writing: memory, love, desire, and heartbreak in all its manifestations. The following poem originally featured in Signs Round a Dead Body, Deryn’s second collection.
Now it was airports that she needed –
to sit there going nowhere
counting aeroplanes like sheep,
with Concorde like an archaeopteryx or angel
and Egypt, Russia, the Azores and Lithuania
spinning in her head. She’d sit there
writing letters that she knew she wouldn’t send,
telling him about the dull, red moon, the way
the landscape then, so pale, unreal,
the fishermen, the midnight seas
had been tattooed like hieroglyphs
in blues and golds
deep into her skin. It was his hands, I think,
she could imagine best
travelling across her. But she thought about the way
he’d kiss her too, the way she’d smile, nod yes
to his demolishing her. The way he’d start
to reassemble, slowly, in the rented bed
her mouth, her throat, her shoulders, breasts,
her knees, her arms, her thighs, her calves, and love etc.
Until midnight on Sunday 9 October,What It’s Like to Be Alive: Selected Poems is half price: only £6.49 (RRP £12.99). Buy your copy now to take advantage of this fantastic offer.