The Caul I get it from my Grandmother: head in hands, chin resting in the heel of an upturned palm, skin over mouth and nose, fingers a mesh to sift the cruel sight, hard word, embarrassment. She was born with a caul. The midwife said it was good luck, cut away the membrane, examined its milky translucence and placed it in tissue to be kept. Her father sold it to a sailor as a charm against drowning. She saw the worst in others, but her eye for us was softened by the tender veil of her birth. All her life she loved chiffon scarves, It’s my belief she missed part of herself sold away.
Papyrus Fragment A buff-brown moth hovers on temperature controlled neon, displays paper thin wings, ragged margins of ancient grass speckled with alpha, omega, nu. It darts, bares a blaze of underwing to plain sight; this endless, fragile need to make a mark, to come to light.
Luck Corded wrist, thick fingers set down the pint glass, snatch again at the coil of rope round his ankle as it drags him over the side. This is how we live through survival, telling and retelling: how the gear swept him into chest-piercing water, left him helpless from the jolt. How he swung in thick dark, worked his hand loose, worked out which way was up, freed his foot from the noose and climbed up to the surface: the side of the boat like a building, faces of mates high on the rail, waiting for his body to come up. He told them how he did it: the plans in bunk for every type of escape; luck.
Riot Break, break, break On thy cold gray stones O Sea, And would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me. Alfred, Lord Tennyson Concrete blocks, bricks, bottles, car batteries, old televisions get tipped from this kitchen ceiling. When the dust settles I’m still here, scattered in the debris: infill for the next smoothing over.
Garden Geometry I planted love-in-a-mist to fool the carrot fly, find myself taken in by the fuzz of unsteady green lolling among strict lines of vegetables. Foil satellite dishes of pink and titanium-blue quiver on flexing stems, crook sepal filaments at the sun: an irresistible signal to pick. On the kitchen table their green haloes crack, charge little screws of colour to hover on a net of spiny fractals: more lightening strike than carrot top.
High Line If he were a train he would be idling, if he were a train he would drown traffic, if he were a train he would shed heavy bars of shadow onto West 16th Street, draw the eye, shunt forward, pick up speed, chop back room, backyard, back street, aircon, gutter, central heating pipe, shutter, dark overlaying light. He paces it out above car stitched streets: americ- ONE WAY –no stopping anytime- spans a subtle Hudson, snaps ornamental grasses, railway sleepers rearing into benches, girders and rivets rhythms of windows and bricks, adjuncts, angles, precincts, abutments. Picture him on the High Line; contained, reaching into distance.
Reading Poetry in a Car outside the Trafford Centre I've tried to explain the strangeness of working without the sun, bundled with countless others down consumer cataracts, all seeking their own seeking: Netbook; IPod; BlackBerry; a token; a statement; a trophy. No east or west, no horizon, small wonder I read to the last second. Words rise as I cross the car park; the tread of feet on pink marble is a heartbeat, the weaving in and out a dance that we all know and this shopping mania a gathering.
Annette Skade is an award-winning poet, and teacher, living and writing on the Beara peninsula on Ireland’s south-west coast. Her first collection Thimblerig was published following her receipt of the Cork Review Literary Manuscript prize in 2012.
She has a degree in Ancient Greek and Philosophy from Liverpool University and she has just completed an MA in Poetry Studies from Dublin City University, where she read everything from Anne Carson to the York Mystery Plays, Elizabeth Bishop to Maurice Scully.
Her poems have recently appeared in the SHOp poetry magazine, Abridged and the Cork Literary Review . She won the Poets meet Painters Competition in 2010 and was placed second in 2012 and her work appears in those anthologies. In October 2013 she won the Bailieborough Poetry Festival & Cara Poetry Competition