Direct and True

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I was out walking just now listening to this podcast where Jackie Kay talks about Edwin Morgan and reads some of his

poems.http://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2013/mar/01/poetry-jackie-kay-edwin-morgan-podcast

I’m a fan of Morgan and was interested to hear that some of his most passionate, urgent poems-for instance, those to lovers-were written when he was in his eighties. Jackie Kay reads out 2 poems to a man called John in which Morgan expresses his love, and some regret too that this came so late. He didn’t come out as gay, apparently, until late in life, and did so in outrage at the oppression of Clause 28. She notes the freshness of the language, its naturalness-how Morgan now felt he could just speak directly and truly. How sad that he felt that he could not for so many years.

Here is his poem ‘Strawberries’ and my poem, written in response to it, ‘Tomato’.

Strawberries

There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

I love the form of this, the way it opens out without punctuation,the way the strawberries evoke time, place, mood and the way they tumble into the present, ‘let the storm wash the plates.

Makes me want to climb a mountain, be fed luscious fruits …

Tomato

There was never a tomato
like the one we ate
near the top of Kinder Scout
that afternoon in March,
after the trek through fog
and peat-bogs, not a soul,
then sank into the heather.

The sun rolled across the valley.
You rested it on cling film,
pressed with your thumb
before the cut, but a plastic
knife’s no good, so you prised it
apart, held it to my lips. I tasted
seeds, flesh, skin, in that order.

Never a tomato like the one
you fed me in the sun.

4 thoughts on “Direct and True

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