Roads and paths covered; ﬂash flooding on steeper slopes
The air is forest.
The road is blocked with trees.
There is noise between them
and no word except river;
the canal is fast river; the path
is deep river; the river is a story
that can’t be believed.
The birds have all left the woods.
The lane is a ripped-up book.
And as much as you know of rain –
this rain is taking everything.
Your clothes forget themselves,
your shoes have never been dry.
It has drowned the rabbits.
They could not escape
from the cage where you kept them.
It is lifting the hens in their coop –
you can still hear them scream.
It breaks your phone
and the lights.
You are left in the total dark.
When your town is a river
and everywhere you love
is going under;
when even the boats can’t ﬂoat
and the water is at your door and rising,
when the mice have all ﬂed upstairs;
when no one can reach you,
the only choice you can make
is what you can lift and save,
is not to forget you can leave –
is to wade with the weight of a child on your shoulders,
to follow instructions for crossing deep water
though the current grows steadily stronger and deeper.
Your house is a river.
I am the track
blocked with rubble. I am rubble.
I am the teatime commuter
come home to a town in disaster. I am on my phone.
I am the man saying fuck
over and over.
I am up to my axles in muck.
I am that one car ﬂoating.
I am those who did not make it
up the hill.
I am the battery, dead in the cold.
I am the phone’s blank screen.
I am the siren that sounded too late.
I am the neighbour with the cigarette.
I am too wet to smoke.
I am the gate you leaned on.
I am the schools, all shut.
I am the children. I don’t know whether
to cry. Where should I go?
I am the mother, knee deep.
I cannot stop saying Fuck.
I would like to go home now. I am the rain.
A town in ruins. Fuck.
11 What do I know
12 Who knows what it’s like
15 Instructions for coping in terrible times
17 For the journey.
18 Late Afternoon, Allan Bank
19 Water as Religion
20 And still I don’t know
27 Weather warning
28 How I heard
29 Roads and paths covered; flash flooding on steeper slopes
31 Flood Town
32 Why did the sand blush?
35 Rainhill Psychiatric Hospital 1992
37 This is a man.
38 For the love of
40 Just look
43 Who said
45 Telling Tales
46 Nothing I’m afraid to write except for words
47 My father was no ordinary man
49 My mother was a veriﬁed miracle.
50 Low lying regions inundated. Large objects begin to ﬂoat
54 Rescue effort
55 Measures of Goodness
56 This is for Stanley and Dan
57 Major structures destroyed; terrain signiﬁcantly altered.
58 A love song to punctuation
60 Catastrophic devastation; damage complete.
61 Love is not
62 Pinnacle Ridge.
64 The Cruellest Month
66 I don’t remember anything about hydrangeas
68 Open Door Policy
70 I came back
72 The Lost King of Calderdale
74 I sing for the man on the bus
75 Flood as Redemption
76 Teaching Your Daughter to Swim
77 Since I woke up as a spider
78 I woz ere.
‘As a reader you cannot expect an easy time with Clare Shaw. She deals with the big subjects, war and conflict, violence and violation but also the subtler themes of language as a means of expression, identity and the difficulties of motherhood. She takes us to places we may be reluctant to go but more importantly she fixes her gaze on us and demands our involvement.' – James Caruth, The North
‘The energy and vivacity of Clare Shaw’s writing, its colloquial power, frame of reference and sheer sound is enough to mark her out as one of the most talented young poets to appear in recent years. Hers is a natural gift that speaks as it sings. It confronts the world with knowledge, pity, melancholy, affection and a kind of sympathetic fury, as if the world were shards and fragments that could be gathered into the ear and sung from the heart. And the remarkable thing is that she does gather it and sing it, that she imbues it with the passion owing to it’ – George Szirtes [on Clare Shaw's debut collection Straight Ahead]
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