Mary MacRae’s second collection
published Aug 10 by Second Light Publications. See order form (pdf file) for discount offers
Listen to Gill McEvoy’s poem Glass Bird in a Shop Window (read by Anne Stewart)
Need help with travel to Second Light events? See Second Light Mary MacRae ‘Access to Poetry’ Fund
Round 7, Month 5… our judge this month is Myra Schneider. Myra has chosen Alex Toms’ poem, On Entering the Eel Catcher’s Workshop as her winner and her four commended poems are by Anna Avebury, Mary Hodgson, Gerda Mayer and Denni Turp.
A bell jangles above your head. In the gloom
it sounds like shattered glass.
Invisible fingers stroke your face;
you brush them aside, realise it’s only
a spider’s zip wire. As your eyes adjust,
shrouded shapes reveal themselves:
round shouldered barrels bound for London,
an outboard motor
that’s stuttered itself into silence.
In the corner, an abandoned punting pole
puts down new roots. Unfinished willow traps
sprawl on the workbench, gaping mouths
already hungry. Beside them lies
a sly knife, its blade spotted with sap.
On the walls, former eel catchers
regard you sternly behind dust-grimed glass.
And right at the back of the shop,
glimpsed only for a second,
a look and a glittering smile
from the Eel Catcher’s lovely daughter
before her slender form
dives deeper into the darkness.
Poem Highly Commended in the Essex Poetry Festival Open Poetry Competition, 2012, judged by Pascale Petit.
The haunting atmosphere of this poem immediately caught my attention. The eel catcher’s workshop is evoked through precise physical details of objects and tools presented in striking images which suggest the sinister. They build up from a bell sounding “like shattered glass” to the “glittering smile” of the living person at the end who is glimpsed before she “dives deeper into the darkness.” The writing is original and extremely well controlled.