INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

54 pages

 

£9.50 + P&P UK

 

ISBN 978-1-912876-35-8

 

PUB: 27/11/2020

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Things I Didn’t Use To Know

 

Jacqui Rowe

 

 

 

 

 

When Jacqui Rowe found she had blood cancer, writing poetry helped her come to terms with the anguish and absurdities of having an incurable, but probably not terminal, illness.

 

With both pathos and humour, the poems address the new knowledge she gained,

and the world she found herself in, of blood counts, Watch and Wait, and bone marrow biopsies, as well as her reflections on

childhood, family, and places, seen

from her new perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

Pistyll Rhaeadr

 

One of our birthdays in a cold July, looking for food

up creeping lanes across the border,

we found a waterfall.

 

Or rather read the signs and didn’t quite believe

the road would open out, there’d be a carpark

and a stream, a café.

 

Opposite, the skein suspended, whiter than the sky,

its motion more substantial here

than wall or bough or leaf.

 

Water generated smells of diesel,

drizzle, foliage damp with summer

to the point of rot.

 

Inside they’d lit a fire, too warm to sit too close,

and I took off my parka for the first time

since we left.

 

They offered bara brith and welsh cakes, the malted

heat of dark tea, amongst voices bemoaning

the loss of another year.

 

And I wondered how it would be to not go back tonight,

to lie and listen to pale water dropping,

so that we would never fall.

 

 

What I might say to my one-time self

 

I don’t know the future, any more than

you do, but I’m sure it doesn’t turn

on a single act; eradicating one specific

sacrifice or solitary protest would not

wipe out a movement. So I’m not

going to suggest you change your diet

or your mind, choose some other subject,

live in a different town, refuse the offer,

run a mile. Where I am now is where

you still would be, here in this place

that all the histories have formed for us.

 

 

Things being various

‘Snow’ Louis MacNeice

 

All my life I’ve hated snow, the way it snarls

the city, promising the winter will be long

enough to annexe spring. Sometimes,

in the flame of summer, MacNiece seduces me

with his crazier world, flakes multiplying more

than anyone could know, out there behind

the glass, beyond the roses, where we’ll

quarter tangerines by the bubbling fire. But really

I’m the woman stranded on the pavement, with

a poundshop umbrella that buckles at the hint

of blizzard, by the claggy road, no certainty

of getting home now the buses have stopped,

no one prepared, none of this forecast,

world just as sudden as we think.

 

 

I never saw the tree I’d looked at every day

 

until it turned yellow with autumn, buttery

like the harvest moon, each leaf the colour,

I imagine, of maturing fields. Three storeys high,

the nameless tree, a narrow cone, pointed

towards bonfire night. Had it been a totem, bare

brown in wintery spring? With strings of blossom,

had it been a maypole? When grass was starved

of pigment and I lay here, fevered, curtains drawn

against the heat, what colour was the tree?

Jacqui Rowe was born in Birmingham where she still lives. Other Things I Didn’t Use To Know is her second full collection, and she has also had four pamphlets published. Her poems have also appeared widely in magazines, such as Tears in the Fence, Bare Fiction, The Interpreter's House, and Poetry Review.  She has read and taken part in literary events all over the country, including reading her own poems on a live edition of Radio 4’s Poetry Please, hosted by Roger McGough.

 

In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts, where she established the creative writing programme which she continues to deliver. She has worked as a writer in schools and in health and social care settings.

 

Jacqui is co-editor of Flarestack Poets press and a tutor for the Poetry School; she also produced and hosted Poetry Bites, a popular poetry night in Birmingham, for over ten years. Since 2014 she has had a place on Room 204, Writing West Midlands’ writer development programme.

In 2018 she was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.

Other things I didn’t use to know

 

Haematology shares a car park

with Maternity; there are eighteen steps to

the front door, I haven’t started to use the ramp

yet; chronic means slow-growing, acute is shorter,

sharper; fever is no more than a number

of degrees; leuko- is white, haemo- blood itself;

gas and air turns bone marrow

biopsies into fun; Watch and Wait has

quarterly fixtures, always away; blood isn’t

one of the Big Four, it skulks in the hinterland

with skin and oesophagus; colours must be

running out, all that’s left is orange

for the ribbon and the wristband; you’ll

probably die with, not of; survival is measured

in decades, when I hadn’t counted on

the plural even while I was well; a book

with Bloodwise on the cover, perfect bound,

is mine to keep, a prize, I read it all the way

to Cornwall; Exeter has its own Leukaemia

Fund, but there’s nothing in the charity shop

I want; the book talks of equalities, so I can’t

be discriminated against now, I laugh; ‘cancer’

isn’t hard to say at all, as long as it’s prefaced by,

‘l’m perfectly all right’; people don’t always

take in the email or read the whisper; they tell

you how well you look, some suspect you’re on

a secret diet; I haven’t drawn

a card that gets me out for free.

 

 

River Plasma

 

Plasma is like a river, says the article.

I hope it is my midland river, flows through

Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth on a market day, doesn’t

burst its banks round Tewksbury. I hope

it meets the Stour from Clent,

the Vyrnwy from Powys, the Avon

and the Arrow, and the lovely Wye

that wanders through Rhyadar

and Builth Wells, then home

to Hereford and on. I hope the platelets,

waterfowl, will bob along my Severn’s course

as it gushes to the Bristol Channel

and the sea.

 

 

A blood ritual for Samhain

 

Ghostbusters is playing on the radio

and she can’t find a vein in either arm.

I want to watch the blood come out

today, I say, it being Halloween.

My elbow crooked and braced, I don’t flinch

at the needle, thin as hair, embroidering me

with spiders’ webs. A dribble in the tube

is hopeful. Not enough, she says. It might only

be a smear, I think, but it’s life and death…

 

She’s telling me she never looked away

when they took bloods from her mother

and that’s what made her want to do this job.

She gives up arms, will have to try my hand,

and I’m behind the sofa, blotting out the thought

of juicy veins that stand proud like

a vampire’s road map. My other hand

across my eyes, the point still feels

driven home. Avoiding the wound,

 

I watch two phials fill up. She hopes

that will do and as she sticks on cotton wool

I want to say It’s practically an empty arm,

but she’s too young, or has had it

said to her too many times.

 

Author amend 9781912876358

Joint Winner:

 

Indigo Dreams Collection Competition 2019

 

Spleen

 

I fill phials with an homunculus

of blood, watch and wait, mark

each ache as a sign, scour

anatomical maps for the spleen

I didn’t know I had until

 

it was too big to fit the scanner

screen. If I were the sort

of person who liked to name

their parts, I’d call it

Baudelaire. There’s too much

 

white amongst the red. Nodes

are florescent under the shade

of my arms. I’ve grown this year

an unseen harvest of my own.