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138 x 216mm
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I stand at the end of the pier
looking out to the last point,
Dad’s advice is
to do this when I’m sea-sick
but this is further and further where
stars dangle and the sea is black
no mackerel sky
scales glittering on the waves.
I can’t even smile, I usually do,
when I picture the animals from the Tower
running through their tunnel
to paddle in the sea.
No seagull swooping on a beached razor shell.
I feel alone inside,
filled with dread that my parents will die
and I won’t know where to find them.
I know this when I look
at the emptiness of sky
splashed by wild sea, its hugeness
when I compare it to me.
Children squeeze paint
through doyleys stipple sky
with filigree cutting shapes
they unfold paper fan into figures
hand in hand birds flying
tail to beak horses trot
tail-flicks to flank.
Pattern pulsates figures dancing
in line holding onto the waist
in front birds follow a leader
who tires then drops behind
replaced by another and horse-herds
gallop together, sometimes
one horse near the front
shows an eye bulging with fear.
In Idlib small children scavenge
together scrabbling in a dump
for food for plastic. One finds
a pomegranate passes from hand
to hand torn apart. They chant
each lost-family-member but
only cry when they see other
children passing by in formation
on their way to school.
The corner of a picture curls
in my left thumb,
I can see the edge of a dream
the sleeve of a red robe pokes through
worn by what appears to be a woman
on a chaise-longue
playing a saxophone,
her left thumb presses the octave key.
I am outside looking in.
Is it me?
Notes for a Poem about Love
A blue rooster in Trafalgar Square snorts
out colour through his bill
slicing mist more bravely than any sun.
Jasmine starbursts scattering
a November hedge, a lonely blackbird
singing at dusk, harbingers
more poignant than roses
in summer, swallows doing their thing. And ―
St Anne’s arm holding the Virgin Mary on her lap,
a friend who rubs the hollow between
shoulder blades, the scarf that Cary ties
round Ingrid’s bare midriff,
a hand that plucks stray food from a chin,
the brush painting a swathe
of green round that brutal nude.
I catch Scarlatina, couldn’t be meaner
at six years old. In isolation,
I sit at a bay window
so my parents won’t worry as I look down
at two small people on the hospital lawn,
I suppose they are my parents. I am
only partly there I don’t fully exist
without my tribe, see myself in their eyes,
hear their news listen to views see
the walls of my house distempered eau de nil.
And once I find chocolate under my pillow,
a nurse says my Dad has been
but because of Lady Scarlatina
he can’t be let in. And
when I return home, my baby sister
is walking and my Mum looks
at me differently and nothing seems
the same so I know that everything
Janet Clarice Murray
The poems in Janet Clarice Murray’s debut collection
Picture This are in free verse and divided into three scenes.
They are rhythmic and sound-conscious using internal rhyme
Alliteration, onomatopoeia and assonance.
There is a strong people and colour thread throughout.
Janet Clarice Murray grew up in Lancashire and until recently lived
In 2019 she moved to South West London and now lives near the Thames.
In 2018 Janet won the Fish International Poetry competition with her poem ‘Vernacular Green’, an ekphrastic poem based on the work of Howard Hodgkin.
Her work has been published in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The New
Statesman, Ekphrastic Review and Fish Anthology.