Poem, Poetry

The Weight of Snow – 2 poems

Today we celebrate the release of Pauline Rowe’s second Maytree collection, The Weight of Snow.

Described by the author as a sequence of poems exploring a family story of bereavement and the accidental death of a child, and the reverberations of loss over generations. The Weight of Snow powerfully conveys how grief becomes emotional inheritance and impacts upon formation and love. A stunning collection.

Barnes Road, 1967

Wendy kept PG Tips cards 
and badges from Robinson jam.

Billy The Lodger blocked the hall 
with his deafness and Triumph bike.

Little Jody shot rats with a borrowed gun.
The weary beds upstairs were off the floor on bricks.

Tate & Lyle’s open bag – its sugar-plated spoon,
a chemistry experiment, for the mourning.

Mary Hopkin sang out 
from the red and grey Dansette,
as we tried to bounce without any give – 
we’d sing and dance forever and a day.

Mum didn’t want Joe senior to end there, 
unable to breathe in the chaos of Nanna’s death.

Mum said Nanna Ada’s dying face was blue,
her howling made them all afraid.

At first, she’d given up.
So when the fight came in  
the tumour had the better of her.

Widnes Library

my childish refuge,
its magic revolving door,
like the wardrobe to Narnia.

Saturday afternoons 
away from traffic,
the bone yard’s air,
SRA and Collins’ Maths 

I found freedom
in an apple barrel on a ship, 
the feasts of Tudor kings.
Journeys to The New Forest, 
Wootton Major,
the cold streets of Paris,
civil war Massachusetts,
the workhouse and an empty bowl.

The Weight of Snow (Maytree Press) is available now from the author and on-line from the Maytree shop Home | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Pauline Rowe’s fourth pamphlet The Ghost Hospital, published by Maytree Press, was shortlisted in the 2020 Saboteur Awards. Her full collection Waiting for the Brown Trout God was published by Headland Publications in 2009. Her collaborative exhibition Sleeping in the Middle – with photographer AJ Wilkinson – was shown at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool in May 2018. The Allotments – a collaborative exhibition with photographic artist Dave Lockwood and artist, the late Arthur Lockwood – was shown as part of the LOOK Biennial at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool in 2019. She founded and ran the Liverpool based charity North End Writers (2006 –2020). She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Liverpool and extensive experience of working in health and community settings.

Poem, Poetry

Clair Chilvers

Lessons at the School for Young Ladies*
A maiden head the virigins trouble
Is well compared to a bubble
On a navigable river
– Soon as touch’d ‘tis gone forever
A maiden-haid: JOHN CLARE

In Scripture we came across it in a
biblical passage. What did it mean, we asked, being a maiden?
Yet another taboo not talked of even by the head,
a woman impossible to imagine being anything else. The
assumption was that we were all virgins
that we would not get into trouble
would not risk the excitement of the stolen kiss that is
likely to lead to something less well
behaved, but much more delicious, compared
to stilted conversations in full view. Then to
an expectation that we would feel shamed, a
faulty assumption; that we would not break out of the bubble
of purity at least while in her care. That we should on
no account have any opportunity to even set eyes on a
potential lover. We would encounter no navigable
path towards a liaison. We would not be swept away by any river
that would dash us into the arms of a man. Soon
enough we would take our chances as
our hearts would be touch’d
again and again by the fervour of our adolescent dreams. ‘Tis
not a time I look back on with much pleasure. Gone
though it is now, to be replaced by another iteration, and so on, forever.

*A Golden Shovel is a poetic form invented by Terrance Hayes in which the last word in each line comes from
the words of the source poem.

Clair Chilvers was a cancer scientist. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK. Her poems have been published in journals including Agenda, Allegro, Amaryllis, Apex, Artemis, Atrium, Ekphrastic Review, Impspired, Ink Sweat and Tears, Sarasvati and The Journal. www.clairchilverspoetry.co.uk

Poem, Poetry

Mike Farren

(for Tom)

He is cycling down a canal towpath
late. Always late – limbs appearing to push
in contradictory directions but
he’s fast – until he sees me and either

stops for a brief and breathless greeting or
hails me, without breaking his staccato
rhythm, in a voice I half expect to
doppler as he passes. He is wearing

a work suit with narrow tie and a shirt
whose tail has unmoored itself with the strain.
The towpath takes a day to turn from mud
to dust and fifteen minutes back to mud:

whatever the weather brings will cling to him
through the day as he speaks patiently to
small children and thinks about rain, falling
and ruin. Later, he will shrug off as

much of the day as he can, wear the dark
blue jumper over coat-hanger shoulders
so that it falls as if empty, climb up
to the woods, with the dog who has to learn

about gravity for the first time each
time he meets it. At last, he will return
to her, in the house where they had ship-wrecked
themselves and they will not need text-speak. One

day, there will be a different city –
perhaps even a different canal.
He will worry about whether horses
will actually be there for his own child,

while I will still be walking down the same
old towpath, trying to work out how life –
how friendship and poetry – whistled by
so fast.

Mike Farren has authored two pamphlets: Pierrot and his Mother (Templar) and All of the Moons (Yaffle). He won the Saltaire Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival Walter Swan poetry prizes (both 2020), and was Poem of the North ‘canto’ winner (2018). His poems appear widely in journals and anthologies.

Poem, Poetry

M. E. Muir

There’s a Tree on my Terrace

My shrub pretends to be a tree
called grandly stagshorn sumac,
glowers behind his fingered leaves
offers his flimsy scrap of shade.

My terrace asked me for a proper tree;
this is my best, I cherish every inch,
spray him with cans of miracle-feed,
and wait through summer till a glint of red

marks on his fifteen leaflets autumn’s touch.
Sad when they drop, I press them close,
a memory in case I fail his needs.

I long to lie below his gift of green,
cherish at last his trunk of velvet bark,
let terrace swop the blue umbrella screen
for my almost proper tree.

M. E. Muir is a Scot now living in London, former teacher and business consultant, whose work has recently been published in eg Dawntreader, Morphrog, The London Grip, Ink Sweat & Tears, Porridge, and of course in the Poetry Village, with a first collection  EX SITU just out from Dempsey & Windle.

Poem, Poetry

Maggie Reed

Blue and White Cup

On the shelf in Granny’s bungalow in Jodhpur
part of the tea-service trembling in the earthquake,
sole survivor on the mantelpiece at Barton Vicarage.

You could swallow only two mouthfuls of tea
from this porcelain, straight-edged cup,
hold it with your little finger straight.

The keys it holds have lost their locks,
under the ivory elephant a safety pin,
a black and white photo of me, aged 14.

When I’m gone it will be found by the grandchildren,
dropped, perhaps, on the footpath, smashed,
scuffed under a bush, unearthed by developers,
collected by a writer with new stories to tell.

Maggie Reed, originally from Cumbria, now lives in the Malverns, Worcestershire. She has been published in The North magazine, Pennine PlatformOrbis, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Poetry Birmingham, Unpsychology, The Lake, The Beach Hut and Message in a Bottle, as well as numerous anthologies, including Places of Poetry.