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 23 December 2010

How then to live in the space there is?

As apples round into form, from the core
take on the heft of substance, fill then fall.
As birches turning, tall on hills, drop gold, and jays 
shout at treetops, flash blue temper, caw and call. 
As wax wanes, burning in pools, glows and spills,
and the lemon-scented leaf sends down
its downy messengers, unfurls, roots, grows.
As the solemn, solitary child plays.

The edge of space we touch at our finger ends,
we cast out webs, threads, spools, 
hashing up space like cheese wires, cross,
form nodes.  We run along them,
jump, hang in the air. 

How then to live?  As if the moon
were always over snow-lined fields
where crows walk, and the dull blue 
glowing curve of evening cloud, so
the leaves snap with cold at the road's edge
and you know that pheasants hunch
amongst the spikes of sedge and bone yellow
umbels of the winter weeds, but let them be,
coming home as you are to the hiss of the fire.

And what do you see in the flames?