Three voices

‘This collection brings together the work of Peter Easter, Ayala Kingsley and Rachel Playforth, whose work, while very much in the twenty-first century and contemporary in its idiom, is nonetheless informed by an acute awareness of the past and its significance in and to the present.’

The Frogmore Press (2004)

Quietness, care, savour of words and sounds, common themes treated without self-indulgence. Emma Lee, Happenstance




Whichever way I look, slantwise in double mirrors,
through pin holes, or the wrong end of telescopes,
the shape of loss eludes me—if an absence has a shape;
its name, too, equivocal, won’t settle,
but shapelessness and namelessness are present,
moving the air with invisible wing beats
so that I am conscious, as it were, of feathers.

And each morning carries me further away,
a swimmer out of her depth, amid a welter
of mnemonic flotsam like an abandoned to-do list,
or it’s he that’s been swept out of reach
with neither protest nor outstretched hand,
though I look up disturbed as the light trembles
and remember swimming lessons.

Our swimsuits were of unknown provenance
and could sink under the sheer weight of ruching.
He held us afloat, knitted sweaters with his sailor’s hands,
wore jeans before they were fashionable.
The last time he undressed he left them lying,
with the bobble-hat he’d taken to wearing, lately,
shucked like a chrysalis.

Just a shape, empty, and for a long time, no doubt,
other residues; skin, hairs, aftershave, oddments
of correspondence, the signature on the blank cheque
for emergencies I never used, a tape of him singing
that I don’t play in case it wears out
and his voice fades to static and shadows;
I save it, also, for emergencies.