We read a poem:
Swineherd: (Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin)
When all this is over, said the swineherd,
I mean to retire, where
Nobody will have heard about my special skills
And conversation is mainly about the weather.
I want to lie awake at night
Listening to cream crawling to the top of the jug
I want to see an orchard where the trees grow in straight lines
The extracts give you a flavour of the Swineherd’s dream……..of a life utterly different from the one he has. He doesn’t say what it involves. You understand that from what he dreams of.
Now, Pick a task or occupation. Maybe you’ve done it, dreamed of it, would hate it. Lighthouse keeper, pigs head boner, chiropodist, dentist, mudlark, lady’s maid. What will you dream of doing once it’s all over.
My workshoppers have five minutes to react to this, to write, as far as possible, without conscious thought…at the very least, without an editorial voice in their heads. I promised that if anyone wrote something they thought worth keeping they could send it to me and, all things being equal, I’d put the poem on the cobweb. And I was delighted that two writers did, and even more delighted to like the poems and to keep my promise. Here we go. First, Sarah Miles.
When this is all over
(said the window cleaner),
I will go to a place where houses
with thatched roofs beckon the open air;
alive with insects, clicking,
keeping me awake at night.
I will sit on the fat window ledges,
my legs swinging and my thighs
spreading on the cold concrete,
absorbing the dust, the chill
and the crannies of the windowsills.
There will be no storeys,
no need for extensions or ladders.
My feet will be forever grounded,
my world will be smeared
and streaked with weather and bird-shit.
If I see suds, I will pop
one by one,
till there is nothing left to see
but a memory.
and Louisa Campbell
The milk-white moon
holds a wispy finger
to his gentle mouth, whispers,
as I clink bottles on stone,
soft-step back to my float.
Puttle of tyres on road,
7, 9, 11, but not 13,
fox’s warrior stare,
all add their pulse to mine
as I long for the world to stay
like this forever: poised, hung-
over, quiet in ink blue,
ready for anything.
Louisa Campbell‘s poetry has appeared in journals including Prole, Acumen, and Three Drops From a Cauldron. Her first pamphlet, The Happy Bus, is forthcoming with Picaroon Poetry.