Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jennie Roache


Who are you Jennie and how do you look
are your eyes rounded blue does your hair
tumble or twine do you have cheeks
curved and full and when you smile
do your lips incline ruefully down
are you the child in every woman the
one who runs water through her hands
and watches, as if water were new
her hands unknown who cannot touch
plum apple grape or peach
without experiencing fulsome pleasures
roundness smoothness roughness taste
do you sleep at night then wake
hugging the dark as if it were a friend
conscious of the liberties you take
and are your stars so bright they want
no polishing are you sad enough sometimes
to know that happiness always borrows
that nothing it owns is ever kept
have you dolls and do you read books
do you bake or cook take singing lessons
ever pause just to sit and look
listen to other children play who
taught you and how did you learn to spell
where could you have got so early soon
years before such facts are due your
fragment of the truth how could you have
laughed so much wept long enough to know
that there's flesh beyond your flesh
and bone beyond your growing bone where
did you learn of the need Jennie Roache
and what was the impulse prompted you
to write your declaration on my fence?

Alistair Paterson

Another poem I like – its theme combined with lovely liquid sounds. Like most of us, Jennie Roche uses the word ‘love’ without much understanding. However, her innocence means it does carry a sense of a universal truth for the young often possess a simple wisdom way above their years. At the same time this is a very masculine poem in its yearnings and queries.

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