When we are naked and heart pounding in the shower,
in the new dark, afraid of being so close to water.
And it’s like love
when the sun disappears for months
and when you stick cloves into an orange.
And when, in the woods, antlers fall from deer onto grass
it’s like love.
To persist into spring when you have lost
some part of the whole self.
When you feel a chill and cover your feet
it’s like love.
Suddenly you’re in a movie, the breeze from an open
window isn’t real, the walls are paper, the food is plastic.
And it’s like love
when a train stops dead in a tunnel
and when a beloved cat shows its claws.
And when tar is compressed into uniform blocks
it’s like love.
The air is all white smoke and impossible to breathe,
the blocks stack to the sky.
When you fall down the stairs
it’s like love
and when you are soaked through to the bones,
your clothes are deadweight and the radiators click to life.
Bus-sized and gentle, you are master of peace,
diplomacy, berries, grass, perseverance, pace.
Your warm, rough belly sags with majesty over ferns,
cycads and dust. Your spikes are dull and magnificent,
a row of abandoned kites, rusted by a tough winter,
in a tree stripped of guts. You’re not a fighter, though
you will fight. It’s hard to just stay out of trouble
when everyone else is looking for it, I know. Tinted red
and armoured, I think I couldn’t know more beauty
if I travelled the earth ten thousand times.
The perfections of your tiny head trounce a sunset,
your mouth holds more wonder than a sky full of stars.
The Year I Was Born:
the day by day chronicle of events in the year of your birth
January, frosty month,
the Challenger explodes 74 seconds after lift-off.
A motorway in Bavaria closes for 7 hours
after a lorry turns over
and spills 24 tonnes of noodles.
February, the month of cakes,
a perfect black tulip is grown in Holland
after 25 years of failed attempts.
February 9th, new moon.
March, boisterous month,
the American wonder lemon is harvested,
producing an eggcupfull of juice when squeezed.
Halley’s Comet travels in a huge orbit
around the sun
and won’t return again until I am 76.
April, the opening month, fool’s May –
the Royal Mint is 1100 years old,
Texas is 150 years old,
the Biro is 40 years old,
the Berlin wall is 25 years old.
April 24th, total eclipse of the moon.
May, blossoming month,
poor weather wipes out over half of Britain’s beehives.
From this month onwards all new phones
will have push buttons rather than dials.
A radiaoactive cloud
from Chernobyl reaches England.
June, dry month,
the rarest buttercup in Britain goes on show.
Admiral Horatio Nelson gets ready
to have his face washed.
The pier at Southend is sliced in two by a sludge ship.
July, the yellow month.
July 6th, new moon.
For her 100th birthday,
the Statue of Liberty has her nose rebuilt
and her insides cleaned with sodium bicarbonate.
2,000 lobsters escape
when a lorry turns over at Bere Regis, Dorset.
August, month of harvest,
5 large teddy bears fall off a lorry on the M3
and are taken into custody at Basingstoke police station.
Southend Pier is mended.
September, barley month, holy month,
new moon September 4th.
Hundreds of people in Paris
demonstrate outside the pets’ cemetery
which is threatened with closure.
October, month of the winter moon,
over 3 tonnes of mixed biscuits block the road
for 7 hours in Markeaton, Derbyshire,
after a lorry turns over.
The Jonagold apple, a cross between a Jonathan
and a Golden Delicious,
is voted most eatable apple of the year.
November, slaughter month, the month of blood.
A raindrop 8 millimetres in diameter
is found in a cloud just east of Hawaii.
A 124,000,000-year-old dinosaur,
found in a Surrey claypit,
is ofﬁcially named Baryonyx Walkeri,
meaning ‘a heavy clawed creature found by Mr Walker’.
December, dead month, month of yule.
December 1st, new moon.
December 16th marks the beginning of mince pie season.
December 31st, second new moon.
When Sasquatch was found face down on a dual carriageway
the world united in a quiet and shameful silence.
He was moved to a secure location and subjected
to a live autopsy on the Discovery Channel revealing,
like a huge rose, circulatory, muscular and skeletal systems
much like our own but with all the predictable differences.
His stomach contents proved him to be a gentle vegetarian,
foraging on low ground, particularly enjoying
varieties of berries usually poisonous to humans.
A reconstructive video demonstrated how he would have
walked, run and rested.
They put photos of his hands, feet and closed eyes
on the news and as part of an extensive ten-page spread
in a memorial edition of The Times.
He was auctioned off to an anonymous bidder.
After public outcry, the anonymous bidder
entered into negotiations with the British Museum.
Plans were put in place to ensure that he would be interred
in such a place to be viewed by the public,
who came in droves to see this thing so long denied to them.
Breathing on the glass and touching
the animatronic model beside the glass case
despite the signs thanking them for not doing so.
In my dreams he followed me around all my life.
When I walked through a shopping centre, he was behind me,
peering in through the shop windows at the colourful cakes,
which he longed for.
And when I walked along a pavement
he was on the traffic side, taking the hits,
the headlights of a million cars setting him on fire.
I • THE HUMAN HEART IS CURVED LIKE A ROAD
11 Flowers, Love etc
12 Other Clouds
14 Alabaster Baby
16 A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages
II • MY SKIN IS
20 Sweetheart, come
23 The woman in the sun, a letter
24 A Guide to Love in Icelandic
26 Kintsugi 金継ぎ
III • LICKING THE FLAVOUR
30 The boy
31 Django Fontina
32 Hello, Little Bird
35 Junk Mail
IV • WHEN A DOG GOES TO HEAVEN THE STARS ARE GREEN
41 All the Sad Movies
42 Baba Ghanoush
43 The Pet Cemetery
44 Dear Stegosaurus
46 The Year I Was Born: the day by day chronicle of events
in the year of your birth
V • SOME PEOPLE ARE SAID TO BE SLEEPLESS
50 My grandfather considers his life in three stages
55 Casida of the Dead Sun
56 The Glass Boat
VI • WITH PERFECTLY SYMMETRICAL FACE
62 The Execution of Lady Jane Grey
64 On serendipity
65 Poor Sasquatch
67 Exemplifying Grace
68 Character Development of the Lovers
70 A Most Satisfactory Dreamlife
VII • I AM CARGO
74 Soup Sister
76 ___ is transported on a ship from Y to Z
78 how the earth increases
81 Poem in which the girl has no door on her mouth
82 A Woman’s Bones Are Purely Ornamental
’Rebecca Perry’s Beauty/Beauty is, immediately, a vivid and charming book – but it is also doing something new. Its readers will find that Perry has invented and made her own a kind of poem which seems to have a white fracture in it, a formal manoeuvring that accentuates the tenderness and intelligence of this remarkable debut. Not since Jo Shapcott’s Electroplating the Baby or Simon Armitage’s Zoom! has a poet emerged with such a distinctive, original voice.’ – John McAuliffe
‘Alongside other young writers such as Jack Underwood and Andrew McMillan… Perry is shaping a new British poem, gentler, funnier, less macho and strong-lined than its predecessors, and full of space and light.’ – Dai George, Boston Review
‘Although Perry’s collection marks the accomplishment of her own voice and style, a poem like the ‘Casida of the Dead Sun’ points to her readiness for wider challenges, including a fruitful exchange with other writers and languages. Beauty/Beauty is an accessible but innovative debut.’ – Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, Guardian.com
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