Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Scriptorium

for Melissa Green

The knot in your old oak table pulses in synch with the lighthouse
storm warnings; Cato – draped like night around your neck – smells
of salt water, gold leaf, barnacles, the blunt-sharp rocks of proximity

and doubt. He purrs in metronomic lighthouse time. The tip
of your fountain pen dips into black ink, shakes off the dark, ignites
a constellation of stars on the page. “I always write,” you say, “on yellow

paper; let it be as close to ochre as anyone can find, in honour of Lascaux’s hooves,
Nuri’s song lines, Altamira’s bison thundering; yellow paper, with dark blue 
veins in the page to stop me trembling; ancient tributaries mapping my way.”


Away now from that ancient shipwreck of a house, that living catacomb – the unsafe
ark - words fly from your pen; those not already here, climb your apartment
steps, find their way in. Daily they come and never leave  - always with you

and life in mind. Like the torches that illuminated the first cave paintings
they peel back the shadows: inside the page, lanterns are waiting to be lit;
the vaulted ceilings of Medieval churches; fresco figures beckoning.

Lovers meet at dawn. In silence they greet each other’s deep, 
forbidden places. “I see,” you say. “I see,” I say. Your old oak table 
has the presence of an altar, the rounded belly and arched back 

of a much-loved cave. It’s a secret and a sacred stage. 
The tea in our cups not tea at all, but terracotta rain
gathered in a downpour, shot through with molten gold. 

CB - 14 May 2010/24 March 2011


For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. This week's editor is Emma McCleary with Where Thought Goes by Helen Lehndorf


  1. Claire, I love this, the richness and imagery, and the way it replies in a sense, while still being its own poem, to Melissa's of last week.

  2. I love that line "I see, you say, I see, I say."

  3. A tribute to Melissa, Claire, a wonderful one. I love:

    "The tip of your fountain pen dips into black ink, shakes off the dark, ignites a constellation of stars on the page. “I always write,” you say, “on yellow paper ..."

    I love the blue lines on the paper to stop the trembling and the shipwreck of a house, and the careful way you build us a picture of this exceptional poet and humanbeing with your own exceptional language and humanity, Claire. I am awestruck. Thank you.

  4. "terracotta rain" ahhhhh - I love that. A beautiful tribute. It's important to give back to our muses - poems are lovely ways to do so. xoxo

  5. The idea of two poems written at different times moving on from the first is excellent.

    The imagery flows wonderfully, the long lines work, as do the line endings in dragging the reader into the next.

    Would be honoured to launch one or two of your poems off Catapult to Mars if you feel like sending them to me (accompanied by your art). I think the Martians would be pleased to receive them!

  6. Oh, what joy to see a new post on Susan's blog roll this morning.

    The piece, the whole of it, visual, spoken and read, could not be more true. Thank you, thank you. xo

  7. Hauntingly beautiful Claire; your poem, your voice and the intertwining imagery - Melissa must no doubt feel honoured.

  8. Wonderful, Claire! It's awesome!