5 poemas de Veronica Forrest-Thomson


A gesture is adjective,
two hands, granite
when they turn bread to flesh
(Notre Dame, July 14th)
A mirror is a museum-case,
two hands, priestesses'
when she mummifies her face.
Emotion is a parenthesis,
two hands, irony
when I light the candle
and cross myself.
Aesthetic approbation is glass
when it encloses her faience eyes
and gilded skin.
(Musée du Louvre, July 18th)
Glance is the copula
that petrifies our several identities,
syntactic superficies.
My cardboard daisies are in bloom
The city's silhouette stands out
just like real, from a child's
pop-up book, "a castle cut in
paper" (Gawain & the Grene Knight
c.1400). Autumn leaves turn like
pages, black on white. For green
and gold must be as parenthetical
as walks through sharpening air
and clamant colour, smoky light
along the Backs, from typewriter
to Library. "Grammar" derives from
"glamour"; ecology may show the two
still cognate: Museum, Gk. mouseion,
a seat of the Muses, a building
dedicated to the pursuit of learning
or the arts. (OED)
The glamorous grammatical frames
captions for a monograph on non-
existent plates. Glue, paper,
scissors, and the library together
paste a mock-up of an individual
history. The art of English Poesie?
"Such synne is called yronye."

Approaching the library
You never would have believed it could be so easy;
it played into one’s hands, the unpremeditated paysage,
as Stevens said, crossing the fen, suddenly confronted
with such expanse of unpretentious waters as visit
our dreams. Elle resta, comme le dit Flaubert,
melancholique devant son rêve accompli.

Poetic diction performed for me two outstanding services:
in confirming that the subject I proposed treating
was a worthy one; and in feeding and clothing me
after I had, in a moment of abstraction, fallen
into Holme Fen Engine Ditch;

It partakes of the clay’s history of human blood
and strife, like Devil’s Dyke, our excursion to which
is hereby premeditated. Thus we are rescued from
the abstract ditch we dig with our fundamental
disagreement about the proper form for a picnic.

It is disturbing to find oneself on a level
with the river, smooth-flowing with pronouns
where we grub, like ducks, for whatever they eat,
in unexpected pools. A drastic diminution
of pronouns in the early weeks of marriage
(lack of third persons, not to mention more banal examples)
leads to this retracted meadow in which comparisons
must be deployed, the meadow she crosses now,
noting its blossoming synecdoches, on her way
to the library, carrying her Heffers Cantab Students
Notebook, ref. 140, punched for filing.


Words are a monstrous excrescence.
Everything green is extended. It
is apricot, orange, lemon, olive and cherry,
and other snakes in the linguistic grass;
also a white touch of marble which evokes
no ghosts, the taste of squid, the...
Go away. I shall call a policeman.
Acrocorinth which evokes no
goats under the lemon blossom.

World is a monstrous excrescence;
he is following me everywhere, one
Nescafé and twenty Athenes, everything
green; I am not responsible for it.
I don’t want to speak to you.
Leave me alone. I shall stay here.
I refuse a green extension. Beware.
I have paid you. I have paid you
enough, sea, sun, and octopodi.
It is raining cats and allomorphs.

"Where" is the British Embassy.

Address to the Reader, from Pevensey Sluice

If it were quicksand you could sink;
something needing a light touch
soon and so simply takes its revenge.
Slightly west of Goodwin Sands
the land hardens again with history,
resists the symbol.
Chalk requires an allegorical hand,
or employee of Sussex Water Board
who sets a notice here:
and all at once Transformational Grammar
“peoples” the “emotional landscape”
with refutation.
You may hear its melancholy
long withdrawing roar
even on Dover beach watching
the undertow of all those trips
across to France.
Follow the reader and his writer,
those emblematic persons
along their mythic route
charting its uncertain curves and camber;
for to be true to any other you must —
and I shall never now — recover
a popular manoeuvre known mostly as,
turn over
and go to sleep.

Le Signe (Cygne)

Godard, the anthropological swan
floats on the Cam when day is done.
Levi-Strauss stands on a bridge and calls:
Birds love freedom; they build themselves homes;
They often engage in human relations.
Come Godard, come, here, Godard, here. The halls
of Clare and Trinity, John’s and Queens’
echo the sound with scraping of chairs
and cramming of maws. A red-gowned don
floats by the swan. We must try to explain
to the posturing dancers that this is an image
of human existence; this is the barre-work
of verbal behaviour; this knife in the corpse
that they shove through a window to float
down the Cam when day is done
is Godard, the anthropological swan.