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.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Cool in the bright air?

You, there in the bright air, are you cool?

I would be, right up there
among the glass-sharp crystals
of ice and octane fuel, dust and minerals,
jet trails, comet tails and blue-white angels
of the upper air,

with earth and all its mess
far off below, its mucky pigments,
bones and hides and dung and sweat,
and self-preserving urgent flesh, invisible
to my frozen, naked eyes.

But no.
I'm still here, on the ground,
just blood-heat, thank you, midway,
contained within an ambient landscape
(grassland and some scattered trees...)
my dampened, stubby-fingered hands
filled with red ochre, and charcoal from the fire,


'What on earth shall I draw today?'


Roderick Robinson said...

Deadliness a finger-tip beyond this side of the window. So why a dreamy temptation to jump out and bustle through those essentially tangible clouds in wellies, hoping they'd respond like autumn leaves, even at the risk of betraying this self-preserving urgent flesh? - long may it remain urgent. Can't believe this was written by someone with stubby fingers.

The Crow said...

The artist of Lascaux speaks through your poetry. What did she paint, I wonder?


Rouchswalwe said...

Here's to unfrozen eyes and hands unafraid of getting mucky!

jarvenpa said...

"contained within an ambient landscape" is wonderful

And I love your ear for music.

Lucas said...

I like this poem for its metaphysical quality. The comma after "be" in the first line is all important as it spells the beginning of a conceit about the uncool planet we inhabit and has nothing to do with wanting to be a no longer sentient body drifting through space (I think as I read this). I like the scientific accuracy of "glass-sharp crystals" and "octane fuel" - the Earth imagery of "red ochre, and charcoal from the fire" is a warming contrast to the cold upper atmosphere of the opening.