In the afternoon sunlight at deCordova sculpture park
she is on the top rung of a pair of steps cleaning a big
dark heart. And it has everything in it, this heart. Twice.
Even the coffee pot I brought back in hand luggage
that time, when such a thing was exotic, exciting,
more or less unknown. The coffee pot that blew up, in the end,
leaving its mark on the ceiling of Oakmead Road. That one.
Here it is, unthought of, unremembered, treacly, right here
in Jim Dine’s big dark heart, which needs cleaning now,
front and back. Twice. Along with all its other secrets,
writ large, packed tight, here, in sunlight. His histories.
Which are our histories, some of them at least,
hands moving in darkness, worn out shoes, rope,
the hammers and saws of a life together, coffee.
Caught forever here in a heartbeat and wiped clean now,
restored in afternoon sunlight, the darkness shining, made good.
(6th April 2008)
I try not to see it as meaningful,
how the flakes fall swiftly
but do not settle,
not on the roads and paths,
nor generally all over
but here, just here,
where an arc of forsythia bows
under this fresh, surprising weight.
Calling from another place,
you asked me once to name
the brilliant bush in your new garden
describing it, in that way of yours,
so that I saw the startling blueness of it,
the unfurling leaf and tender stem
and could say confidently, ceonothus,
the bush that today, years on,
in my own garden and just about to bloom,
takes on a coat of ice.
What now can I name with certainty?
The snowflakes grow larger, heavier.
Is this then, real?
In my mother’s house
is the friendly mirror,
the only glass in which I look
and think I see myself,
think, yes, that’s what
I think I’m like,
that’s who I am. The only
glass in which I look and smile.
Just as this baby smiles
at the baby who always
smiles at her, the one in
her mother’s arms, the mother
who looks like me, who
smiles at herself in her
mother’s mirror, the friendly
mirror in her mother’s house.
But if I move to one side
we vanish, the woman I thought
was me, the baby making friends
with herself, we move to one side
and the mirror holds no future, no past,
in its liquid frame, only the corner
of an open window, a bee visiting
the ready flowers of summer.
11 Cleaning Jim Dine’s Heart
12 Sendai, City of Trees
13 Still Life with Sea Pinks and High Tide
15 The Forest at Tooting Common
17 Treasure Island
18 Red Rab
20 Keen as are the arrows
21 And Afterwards
24 The Smoke
25 A sunset touch
27 Late Snow
28 The Gift
31 In a dream she meets him again
32 In a dream she encounters a snag
33 In a dream he is still busy
34 He buys her a hot whiskey
37 Setting the Moth Trap
38 Casey, Cullen, Ward and McKeogh, 2016
39 That Old Story
40 Life and Land, Thursday May 3rd 1979
41 Grass, Thursday May 7th 2015
42 The Tooting Common Olympics
43 At Streatham Hill Station
44 My Heart and My Liver
45 The Conversation of Thom Gunn
46 – go, in the form of a bird
48 From the Album: At Cliveden
49 From the Album: A parting glass
50 From the Album: i.m. fh 1943
51 From the Album: The missing
52 Mr Kington’s Sidecar
56 The Gough Looking-glass
57 Siglo de Oro
58 Three Rooms, 1937
59 Climate Change
61 So few and such morning songs
'Dooley uses her poems to look down at what's submerged – by memory, words, grief – and shows us a world subtly rippled and distorted, in which everyday objects are "made strange" and nothing, when you reach in a hand, is quite where you expected it to be.’ – Sarah Crown, Guardian [on Life Under Water]
‘This deceptively delicate, often very tender poet: how she marries spare lyrical cadences with political scepticism, packing a whole gamut of wit and sharp observation into very little space.’ – Ruth Padel, Financial Times
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