POETRY

Reading the Bones

By

The tiny bones of children in a cupboard,
The ghost of Garbo knitting in the chair
Beside your bed, the rocking of the eggshells,
Descending dust that glitters on the air,
            The severing of connections in your brain with
            The teeth that crumble and the gums that bleed,
            The broken promises, the stopping train with
            The sailing times you know you’ll never need,

The dreams you can’t remember when you wake up,
The days you can’t remember when you drink,
The drink before the rows before the break up,
The pills you should have emptied down the sink,
            The severing of connections in your brain with
            The teeth that crumble and the gums that bleed,
            The scrubbing brush you can’t remove the stain with,
            The nightdress tangled in the waterweed.

The sly insinuation of the razor,
The buzzing of the beetle in the wall,
The hidden laws that govern random numbers,
The fear before the pride before the fall,
            The severing of connections in your brain with
            The teeth that crumble and the gums that bleed,
            The fingernails recovered from the drain with
            The seven smuggled kilograms of speed,

The purring of the tiger in the attic,
The chattering of the scorpion in the box,
The roaring of the madman in the tunnel,
The intermittent ticking of the clocks,
            The severing of connections in your brain with
            The teeth that crumble and the gums that bleed,
            The killer disappearing through the rain with
            The cipher message nobody can read,

The tiny bones of children in your sandwich,
The boring of the beetle in your head,
The everlasting crunching of the numbers,
The endless conversations with the dead.

John Whitworth is one of those fattish, baldish, backward-looking, provincial poets in which England is so rich. His tenth collection, Girlie Gangs, was published by Enitharmon in 2012 to international acclaim. Well, Les Murray liked it. And Walter Ancarrow in America. You might also consider Writing Poetry published by A & C Black, one of those how-to books; it has run to a second edition and is pretty good, though he (the poet) would say that, wouldn’t he? He once won £5,000 for a single poem. Listen and marvel.

The tiny bones of children in a cupboard,
The ghost of Garbo knitting in the chair
Beside your bed, the rocking of the eggshells,
Descending dust that glitters on the air,