Over the next days we are featuring poems from some of the poets who made it to our 2019 shortlist, starting with Judith Kingston.
Judith is a Dutch writer living in the UK. What she loves about poetry is its tremendous power to get to the heart of things. Publications/performances include “Home” on Poets Reading the News. She has had poetry commissioned by Bacchanalia Theatre Company and Parabolic Theatre Company.
Whenever I hear the sound of rain pounding
on pitch and felt, my eyes turn to where the leak
used to be, and find only smooth white plaster now.
I call it Doom, this unease that spreads through
every bone in my body when I approach the junction
where that van appeared and ploughed into my side
or when the fox at the bottom of our garden cries
out dolefully in the night at exactly the pitch
of a newborn baby waking for a 2 am feed.
It is funny how sounds shape themselves into
an imperative finger that presses right in through
your belly button triggering the panic switch,
how the cold tendrils of dread shoot up from
your gut along your spine to your brain stem,
shutting down reason and slotting the past
neatly in front of your retina to remind you
that you are not free and you will never be,
and the rain will, in the end, hollow out the stone.
HOW TO COOK WITH KNIVES
My mother is moving pans, handing me ladles,
feeding me endless mouthfuls of instructions,
all drowned out by the car crash noise inside my head.
What does it matter how much water the chicken
is drowning in, when all the voices sound like they
are screaming and your pupils are exclamation marks?
This knife edge has our name etched in it and
can cut through sinew and bone with casual
ease, but do not let it near water or it will rust.
I pick up plates and put them down half an inch
to the right of where they were.
I chop the lemon rind and mix it with the pulp
then separate the two into bowls but now
the room is spinning because nothing is
nailed down and I stretch out time like a cloth,
the threads are showing and I can poke a
needle through or my little finger, see there
are gaps here where time is thinning –
I cannot control the clanging of the lids on the pans
or the steam rising or the urgent beeping of
a cartoon emergency coming from the TV.
Sometimes all you can do to keep from turning
inside out or scattering into a thousand bugs is
tie your apron on so tight that you can barely breathe.