Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Who do you think you are?

Who? is hard. What? less so:
A bundle, a ganglion of fears
and hopes; a reptile brain
binary switching, snip-snap, between
life and the other; an eye, an ear,
a mouth, a nose... who knows?

A memory, mimic, mirror, though
speckled, smeared, unclear,
it gives back little; then again
perhaps you think you've seen
a shape something like yours here,
or heard familiar echoes, you suppose...

There is, they say, nobody in the driving seat
at all; no me, no you, no discrete
self to be, for self itself's a sham,
forms, fluid and dissolving, are our complete
story. Yet, still, we hear ourselves repeat,

'Who is it who can tell me who I am?'


Rouchswalwe said...

This one buzzes and scintillates; a pleasure to read aloud. A pell-mell feel in a wonderfully directed winding of verse, Lucy!

marja-leena said...

Yes, delightful and deep at the same time.

Rosie said...

hurrah from whoever I am...

Roderick Robinson said...

"forms, fluid and dissolving, are our complete story." Maybe. But what is consistent and never far away is the crocodile, snip-snipping binary fashion at some feeble-minded gazelle. A Nile crocodile, in fact, capable of moving its body and tail sinuously to achieve 30 - 35 km/h. Niles have a rich vocal range and good hearing, apparently.

Crocodile? Nile? Who are you? Perhaps the last pharaoh.

Zhoen said...

Who is this who asks?

apprentice said...

Who knows - least of all me. The best Icould do would be to say who I'm not.

Lucas said...

A wonderfully crafted soliloquy full of firecrackers - "nose" and "knows" - I like the stoccato rhythms of "A memory, mimic, mirror, though/speckled, smeared, unclear..."
Lucy, this is a deep one!