Carl Griffin lives in Swansea, in South Wales. He has written extensively on Welsh poetry and poets, in the form of reviews and essays. Though born in Stockton-on-Tees, in 1984, he has spent most of his life living in each of the Welsh cities, and these are the places that inspire many of his poems. His poetry collection, Throat of Hawthorn, was a winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize and was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
Carl curated Arrival at Elsewhere (ATG), a book-length long-poem response to the coronavirus outbreak, weaving together the words of 100 poets. The following extract features lines from Sarah Westcott, Rachel Hadas, Richie McCaffery, Gerard Smyth & Julian Turner –
I remember the wooden cross
in the church grounds with a crown
of barbed wire. We approach it
across wet grass – the shape is atavistic,
four points like a body,
the raised head and quiet legs, still.
It’s a long, slow wrinkling we walk on.
I think my son cannot tell between
real cross and apocryphal –
I still enter these uncertainties.
The longer the trail behind,
the less it stays behind. It curves –
not social distancing, not that
awkward choreography of swerve,
no, but as if a tuck is taken in fabric,
a sudden loop, a little lateral leap.
Inside the church, mass is cancelled,
one contagion yielding to another.
Recent looks far away
and long ago. Far away turns
into here, now, so you leap back.
Distant conversations surface.
If memories can live in an element
that lets them dive and sink,
these rise like swimmers.
Under the cross are dog violets
in various stages of growth.
I once took three to study
at home. Indoors, with my glasses on,
I noted the pale opening
in the middle lower petal, the stripes
like retinal veins. An organ
sits idle in its moorings,
its music dormant in the pipes.