Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Force of Things by Majella Cullinane

 I have tapped the arch of the scapula
     where the skin dips
to the breastbone.

Your breaths
     are the quivering feathers
     of birds
rustling eucalyptus, macrocarpa, pine.

It’s a question of listening:

the guttural call of your dreams
     a kind of offering
I nestle in the cup of my hands.

     I snatch the ghost of things
     you cannot see.

It is this that frightens you.

     The wind holds its blade
against the night’s throat,
but like you, it too will soon forget –

the taste of my lips
     buoyed in a gully of dreams.

"The Force of Things" first appeared in Takake 71, ed. Siobhan Harvey, and was published in Majella Cullinane's collection Guarding the Flame (Salmon Publishing 2011). It is reproduced here by permission of the author.

                                                             Editor: Tim Jones

Majella Cullinane is an Irish poet who has recently emigrated to New Zealand. I heard her read her poetry at September's New Zealand Poetry Society meeting in Wellington, enjoyed hearing her poems very much, bought her debut collection Guarding the Flame, and am very pleased I did.

There are a lot of fine poems in this book, and I had a hard time deciding which of them to ask Majella for permission to publish as a Tuesday Poem, but I kept coming back to "The Force of Things". I like the way it takes the images of the natural world that recur through the collection and makes them both intimate and ominous. Restlessness without and restlessness within...

The poems in Guarding the Flame cover the poet's old life in Ireland, her new life in New Zealand, and the transition between the two. It's well worth reading if you like Irish poetry or New Zealand poetry - or if you just like poetry.

Guarding the Flame is available from the publisherbookdepository.co.ukimpress.co.uk and fishpond.co.nz. The Salmon Publishing page for Guarding the Flame includes Majella's bio and two sample poems.

Tim Jones is the editor of this week's Tuesday Poem. Tim is a poet, author and editor who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, and won the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2010. He is about to embark on a book tour with Keith Westwater, to launch Tim's new collection Men Briefly Explained and Keith's debut collection Tongues of Ash. This week, one of Tim's poems from Men Briefly Explained is Mary McCallum's Tuesday Poem, and next week Tuesday Poet Helen Lowe will post one on her blog. 

Do check out the other Tuesday Poets in the sidebar.

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