INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Cover design by Jane Burn
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
Omega takes the reader on a journey through memory, nature and place. The poems consider experiences in spaces, and how our perceptions and the stories we tell each other about them change over time.
Rooted in the natural world, this narrative sequence of poems asks us to consider voices, speakers and their ghosts, and how things shift and change with the turning of the moon, sun and earth.
The eldest daughter remembers
when the baby was born,
another girl – he walked out,
in silence, headed for the Black Horse,
stayed for the lock-in, refused
to come home. The mother and baby
laid in bed together, in the dark room
a face, an eye, a faint glimmer gathering.
Outside, sun glare, street sounds,
shadows slick and black,
like cut out silhouettes.
Cells that enter each other to consume
can rush to heal, together, to fill in the gaps
to ignite with filament that glows.
Painted, oil on canvas, there are three known portraits of the cottage, although none of us live there any more, we keep them still. Why? It stands for home, for my mother and my aunt who grew within its holding spaces. It no longer exists in this way though; reformatted, walls rearranged, staircases removed, doorways shifted.
It was not always a family home. It began life as a series of cottages, small, dark, rooms like tunnels, thatch holding heavy against the pressing night and watchful constellations. Shifting, it became an inn, name unknown, standing where three ways meet and travellers rested – going – coming, where? Nobody knows.
Sandstone and ironstone, walls metres thick; no central heating, but clothes layered. At night it creaked like a ship and sang of history, sailing from one dimension to another. Beams hung like exposed bones, shadowy corners and crannies lured, enticing, yet full of menace.
Roses round the door, lion-mouthed letterbox of burnished brass, well-kept – Omega. Who named it this way? Alpha at the other end of the village, who decides where places begin and cease? Who draws boundary lines? Whose metronome marks time?
It would be odd to visit it now, to see it repopulated, with another’s family’s ghosts prickling the atmosphere. A shell, or a storehouse – what makes a home anyway? The people? The time? Maybe it is greater than the sum of its parts.
It was painted eggshell pale, bloomed and cuticled
to blend into near invisibility. With the wash
of grey-blue sky, and white noise of wheat
stalks shifting, hustling and jostling together,
The scene is there, but the people are absent,
as if the foreground has lifted away;
hear the breathless whisper of voices,
a lingering solace in red stones, layered together.
The tracks are laid, hold up a glass to it,
scuffle the surface of a history that wears
tired brown leather and faded flannel.
Keep watch and figure out what is missing.
Imagine what treasures could be had here,
if this country could be mapped –
a cartography that peels away years,
reassembles things underground; remembers.
Offerings are made in the garden, with milk and honey –
for dreams of new stockings and splendid shampoo.
The dancing is fevered and silent, in borrowed tweed
and lavender spray, made in secret beneath beds
in spell dark bottles. At night, they worship.
Everything happens for a reason, like being kissed too hard,
behind Old Tom’s barn, and not wanting to be kissed,
feeling bruised lips afterwards. It was sometime around May,
the Summer Queen stalked lanes, festooned with white butterflies,
white dresses were everywhere and ashes falling like snow.
That year, birds nested in the chimney, the chicks sang
a thousand songs to reinvent themselves without asking.
When they took flight she missed their cries – in darkness, silence.
Maybe leaving is easier this way.
On wings, nature bound to soar, air in bone
a sky filled destiny, belled with song.
Choices are illusion if you think too much.
Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer whose work has been published in many magazines, including Magma and Poetry Ireland Review.
She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom.
Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, Omega is her second pamphlet.