Monday, November 10, 2014

You are nocturnal but I am an insomniac, by Ruth Corkill

At first I thought it might be comforting,
another body breathing in the dark
smelling spiced, content to be awake
reading in the little dome of light
from your night stand that leaves
my side rich in shapes and shadows.

I am heavy on the mattress
head cricked to one side to stare
at the dry pages and harsh hands.
You give me smiles and stroke my hair
sometimes make honey drinks or tea
bring back kitchen crumbs on your feet.

The morning seems to lull you gently
sinking into airy sheets and pastel sounds.
You fall asleep before I leave.

Last time I was the Tuesday Poem editor I chose a poem by James Norcliffe, a well-established poet whose poetry I’ve read many times over the years. This time I’ve chosen Ruth Corkill, a new poet and fiction writer. I first read Ruth’s work when I was lucky enough to edit JAAM31 last year and then we met at the JAAM launch and chatted about poetry and quantum mechanics—Ruth is highly versatile as she’s a writer, an actor and a physicist. Ruth sent over a batch of poems and I’ve chosen this one for its intimacy and understated sense of disquiet.

Poetry can serve to express our most personal feelings and misgivings—here the poet addresses a sleeping partner. They have entered into a new phase of their time together as the ‘at first’ of expectation gives way to the reality of their out-of-synch sleep patterns. These expectations appear to be modest as she—if indeed the persona here is a she—would be ‘content’ to lie in the shadow of her partner’s lamp. The stoniness of ‘cricked’, ‘stare’, ‘dry pages’ and ‘harsh hands’ is counterpointed by the acts of bringing honey drinks and hair stroking. But are these acts half-hearted or perhaps even condescending?

The poem raises an interesting question: how do we behave in bed when we are reading next to our partner? Both my wife and I are creatures of habit and there’s an unspoken agreement between us about when the light has to go off. The notion of staying awake all night while someone else reads is frankly horrific. No amount of back rubs, hot drinks, or hair-stroking could possibly compensate. It seems intolerable, especially given that he—or she—will be sleeping when morning breaks with its wonderful synaesthesia of ‘pastel sounds.’ That final ‘leaves’ in the last line hints of the end of their shared sleepless nights.

The form of the poem--two stanzas of six lines with a final three line stanza—along with the rhyme of ‘stare’, ‘hair’; the gentle alliteration of ‘kitchen crumbs’, ‘light’, ‘little’, ‘lull’ and the assonance of ‘tea’ and ‘feet’ all add to the poem’s song-like quality. I hope that you like the poem as much as I do. This poem is published here with the author's permission.

Biographical Note:
Ruth Corkill
Ruth Corkill is a physicist in New Zealand working on computer models and analysis for a geomagnetism research team. She has just returned from three months studying poetry and fiction at The Iowa Writers Workshop Summer Graduate Program and she has a Minor in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington. Her work has recently appeared or is upcoming in New Welsh Review, Natural Bridge, The Feminist Wire, Hue and Cry, Poetry 24, The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, The Listener, JAAM, Salient, and Landfall. Her story 'Monkey' was Highly Commended in this year's HISSAC Annual Short Story Competition.

Harvey’s Bio:
Harvey Molloy’s poetry has appeared in Best New Zealand Poems, Blackmail Press, Brief, Enamel, Hue and Cry, Jaam, Lancashire Life, Landfall, The Lumière Reader, NZ Listener, Poetry New Zealand, Snorkel and Takahe. His first book of poems, Moonshot, was published by Steele Roberts in 2008. He has also published non-fiction work on Asperger Syndrome, and is the co-author, with Latika Vasil, of the book Asperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and Identity: Looking Beyond the Label. He is a reviewer for Landfall and New Zealand Books and was the 2013 poetry editor of Jaam magazine. Harvey was born in Lancashire, England, and emigrated to New Zealand with his family as a teenager. He lives and teaches in Wellington.

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1 comment:

Leo said...

Thank you to make me discover this very nice poet. I'm really fond of her work now ! :)
Lots of congrats,

visit if any time or will :