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.

Monday 6 April 2009

What do you know that I don't know?

"I know how, on the inside of my long, thin wrists,
The oils of lemon and verbena smell.
Where my bangles measure the days of exile,
And the English words you told me how to use
Turn in my mind like spokes in a wheel."

Her story came to me from your memory,
Drawn out through time, and from the order
Of words and places, shuffled like playing cards.
She says: " I have such clever hands.
And memories, that nudge and natter,
Of shopping precincts and motorways,
And swamps that steam in every heart."

What do you know of crocodiles?
Of the wisdom of crocodiles?
Of their hooded eyes, live and greedy,
But still as stones, and their sullen patience?


The Crow said...

Lucy and Joe:

"And swamps that steam in every heart."

I wanted to tell you what this line did to me a moment ago when I read it, but the words won't come...I'll have to come back when things have settled down a bit.

This venture promises good things for those of us who follow both of you.

marja-leena said...

Another fabulous collaboration by the two of you! This is an enticing, rich beginning and I look forward to following the rest as it comes.

Julia said...

Great to hear you have started up again! Is there any way to see a glimpse of your back and forths for those of us wondering how you do it?

So much to like in this poem, but the bangles measuring the days, and then the "I know" versus "you told" are very strong.

apprentice said...

You're off to a great start here.
Maybe you could colour code the questions, so we know who is posing and who is responding throughout?

I agre with others "swamps that steam in every heart" is a killer line.

Dick said...

Superb. Such mystery and allure. Off to view its partner now.

Rouchswalwe said...

Hearty heady stuff! I'll leave forthwith to purchase some fine ale to drink whilst reading these posts.