One stop before black

One Stop Before Black is my first full collection. I am looking for a publisher.

Written with a dancer’s physical awareness, this collection traces the fragility of being, the instant of falling, or holding on, or letting go—the infinite moment. While some poems explore how it is to dance or just to walk, others reflect on childhood and family, yet here, too, ‘body memory’ is at work. The title poem is the first in a sequence describing a love affair and its protracted, destructive aftermath; some of these poems adopt the persona of Andersen’s Little Mermaid, who, voiceless, had to express herself through dance.

Painting by Sharon Drew



One stop before black

If it were possible to choose a colour
to describe that sense of falling and yet being held
then purple is what comes to mind
and is, at once, inadequate

and even if I reach for subtleties of purple
aubergine, or grape, or certain hellebores
or the stain of mulberries, or wine’s red-black
I am dissatisfied

though these are truer in their value
their proximity to black, to the inflorescent night
that swallowed us, intoxicated as the Purple Emperor
at the orchid’s throat

than where the light washes through amethyst
or the wind blows the heather or anemone
or the perfume lifts from lavender and violet
and certainly more true

than proud Tyrian purple, with its trumpets
and public spaces and the death of innumerable
small molluscs, or the elusive
industrial mauve.

I am looking for a reckless, tidal purple
irresistible as sleep, that, sighing, sweeps away
the last brushstrokes of sunset
in the embrace of dusk

a colour at the far edge of the spectrum
clutching, in the face of ultra and infra
light’s most extreme refraction
one stop before black.