It’s all the stuff they taught us in our childhoods,
the lessons hammered from their smelt of pain –
insure, secure, and burglar-proof your cell,
equip with all the smartest apps and trends.
The future waits out there, pitch-black, unknown,
beyond the knife-edge of the precinct lights.
The zebra stood in the night
now it keeps flashing up on the screen of my mind,
the lines on its body sharp and precise,
no blurring of edges, no shading.
I’m surprised that I seem so surprised
at the hardship that’s dwelling inside me.
Black, white, black, white.
No compromise. No bleed.
Watching the Fire Take Your Body
Remember those blue irises I’d left for years?
You dug them out with Séan’s big fork,
then left them on the grass for me to split.
After you’d gone I wrenched and tore.
Got nowhere, gave up struggling, fetched the spade.
That mat of yellow roots, the slicing blade,
the last despairing heave, the rain of soil –
the shock still live and scorching through my flesh.
12 The zebra stood in the night
15 Sealed Vessel
17 May Rain
20 Nobby of the Bogs
23 Threnody for Seamus
26 Lost Worlds
27 The Latvians Stir Ghosts
29 Latvia Phones Ireland
30 Night Journeys
33 Burying Barrie Cooke’s Cofﬁn
34 The Holiday
37 The Pilgrim’s Warning
38 Two Funerals
42 The Conjurer
45 Atlantic Island
48 Late Thoughts
49 Software Update
50 The New Widow
51 How It Happens
52 Away From Home
54 At the Musée Cluny
63 Speaking to Lu
64 After You Died
66 Your Box
67 Watching the Fire Take Your Body
68 The Door
69 Life Gone Away Is Called Death
72 Thirteen Months
73 In San Vicente
74 Empty Space Poem, Eighteen Months
76 Between Here and There
77 Moving On
'Our trust reposes in such clear, open writing. Hardie’s later poems are barer, more strongly narrative, and sometimes read like parables and portraits at once… The poems speak to us from gardens as well as graveyards, from private homes as much as churches, and, most often, from the borders and boundaries that the poems speak so often and beautifully of breaching or attempting to breach' - John McAuliffe, The Irish Times on Selected Poems.
'Kerry Hardie’s newest collection is a dark and gorgeous hymn to human mortality. Death is, of course, such a common theme in poetry that it’s difficult to find anything new to say about it, but Hardie succeeds, injecting into these poems her usual quiet originality… Death in Hardie’s poems is a release from the process she finds truly terrifying: the slow decay of ageing… The feeling that runs throughout the collection is that of time running out: seasons changing, the familiar disappearing, death approaching ever faster… a book of poems that celebrates the wonder of our small lives as much as it laments their brevity' – Claire Askew, The Edinburgh Review, on The Ash and the Oak and the Wild Cherry Tree.
‘Kerry Hardie writes about the here and now, the everyday and the ordinary in an authentic lyric voice. She speaks of God in our secular age without unease or embarrassment. This deeply spiritual book is deceptively immediate and it yields its mystery and depth in each rereading’ – Judges’ citation, Michael Hartnett Award for Poetry, 2005.
‘The essence of her marvellous poems lies in the way she sees through a material world that is rendered truthfully, plainly yet freshly’ – George Szirtes, The Irish Times.
‘Hardie’s poetry is brave, steadily confronting both the deaths of her loved ones and her own experiences with illness as an ME sufferer. Her collections contain gentle, but insistent, works of memento mori… What makes her work exceptional is how skilfully she illustrates the connection between humanity and the cycles in the natural world. Poems and lives move through the unstoppable clockwork of seasons in her collections… A unique aspect of Hardie’s poetry is the hope that is present in all her collections. She guides us through tragedy, reassuring us but never romanticising the true nature of life’ – Jennifer Matthews, Poetry International.
BLOODAXE BOOKS LTD Registered Office: Eastburn, South Park, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 1BS, UK Registered Number 1656254 England VAT No 414 4062 89