'Being Human', the new anthology from Bloodaxe, has been brightening my life for the last three months. Witness the fact that when I want it, I have to track it down, because it wanders from room to room. Sometimes it's been read in a saggy chair in the conservatory in the chilly early morning; or it's tucked under the chair by the Rayburn after a wet summer evening. Or in the capacious basket we keep in the loo. Or lying doggo on a windowsill, waiting to go out to the garden with a cup of coffee.
What a book! Wander into it and it will enrich your life. Here's some favourites.
'Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs)'
Louis MacNeice's beautiful exploration of the slowness and strangeness of time when you're waiting for someone.
Then there's Ruth Stone's 'Second Hand Coat'.
'I think when I wake in the morning
I have turned into her.
She hangs in the hall downstairs,
a shadow with pulled threads.
I slip her over my arms, skin of a matron.'
Think about it, next time in Oxfam!
Try Thomas A Clarke, 'In Praise of Walking'. A long poem, like his walk, full of steadiness and meditative rhythm.
'Walking is not so much romantic as reasonable.
The line of a walk is articulate in itself, a kind of statement.
Pools, walls, solitary trees, are natural halting places'.
For an evocation of haunting, Fleur Adcock's 'Water':
'I met an ancestor in the lane.
She couldn't stop, she was carrying water.
It slopped and bounced from the stoup against her;
the side of her skirt was dark with the stain,
oozing chillingly down to her shoe.
I stepped aside as she trudged past me,
frowning with effort, shivering slightly
(an icy drop splashed my foot too).'
Simple, and absolutely believable.
I've no way read enough yet.