The way evening comes in
(or on or down)
brings the word closer
than it’s ever been:
the blue levelling deeper,
evening to a fade
that seems to make the colour
brighter, the best possible
way to age. I keep watching
its beauty as if I could learn it,
shaking a month’s dust from
a carpet out of the top window,
my face paused in the cold air,
the lidless city,
the universe heard.
Where it Led You
(for John Maggio)
You say the wind in the trees brought it.
Your grandmother’s house nested by woods,
a cabin more like, with an outside toilet
and the smell of fallen apples masking it.
It isn’t the rotting, sweet thickness but where
it leads you: into the woods, where small
creeping shadows called to city boys who
could play lost, jungle commandoes.
You followed your brother into a clearing.
There lay something you knew but didn’t,
something that should move but couldn’t
– a heap of smattered fur, even before the flies
knew, a litter of puppies, the texture tangy
in your mouth, a fruit bruise, the pelts asking
to be petted, the bloodholes where the pellets
entered. Around you circled the knowledge of BB
guns, the deadly capable forest boys and the rustling
that shocked a new silence into you both.
When you say you want more space in the
maze of your paintings, I hear whimpering
in the trees, the pop-pop-pop of boyhood, see
a mound of warm heads. You will paint a path
out of the woods, making room for each and
every one, in fathering light. Your world is
kinder, figuring the dense, bewildering mass,
the face-down side of the bright apple.
Dark barely lifts from
the rooftops, winter casting
its poorly washed sheet down.
January, the time of year I am least,
I stop on the stairs, refocus on
plum branches where green
nodes are clustering,
unwinding the clock of sap.
One year on, her warmer
hand taking mine has made me
almost immune – here’s the
very second, the hill of snow,
our sex-bright skin that graphs
a cycle beyond the usual lustrum;
look at her fingers fanning out
the count from her thumb;
hear the click of the abacus,
promising something foolproof
in calling love a number.
Evensong, Where It Led You and Anniversary Poem are © Cherry Smyth
Cherry Smyth is an Irish writer, living in London. Her first two poetry collections, When the Lights Go Up, 2001 and One Wanted Thing, 2006 were published by Lagan Press. The Irish Times wrote of this collection: ‘Here is clarity and realism, couched in language that is accessible and inventive. The title poem carries all Smyth’s hallmarks: precision, linguistic inventiveness and joy.’ Cherry’s work was selected for Best of Irish Poetry, 2008, Southword Editions and The Watchful Heart: A New Generation of Irish Poets, Salmon Press, 2009. Her third collection Test, Orange, 2012, was published by Pindrop Press and her debut novel, Hold Still, Holland Park Press, appeared in 2013. She also writes for visual art magazines including Art Monthly. She is currently a Royal Literary Fellow.