Gill Nicholson

Gill lives in South Cumbria. Since publication she is exploring set forms and ideas provoked by films, photographs and music. Pennine Platform, The Interpreter’s House, Seam and Other Poetry have published her work. Poem-and-a-Pint continues into its eleventh year.


Too old for racing now, five brindled greyhounds
poke through rubbish trapped in cracks
and scattered on the grass. At six she lets them out
to find the winter’s rain has sluiced the roofs,
set off new scents.
The turtle-woman pulls her trolley full of cat-food
round corners as routinely as the dogs remember sex.
A beetle inside tree roots clambers out for air,
its crimson carapace caught by this nosing camera.
The park is destitute; each nation’s show-place
shuttered up.
Yet in some pebbles, bright as a clutch of marbles,
yellow cinquefoil grows. A worm stretched through
the water of a pool is shot in close up:
its ridged elastic body moves as though
the centuries have stopped.
At dusk, lamps light up walkways
bare of art’s contemporary shows.
Drops ping cold glass; drip down, drip down,
as fruitless trails make puddles whose reflections
only turn back on themselves.
Two church bells chime, collide and then divide.
At midnight, shadows breathe. A cigarette flares.
We think a man is waiting. Out of the dark,
he lifts his arms and holds another in the silence.
It’s a question that the camera shares.
Dawn comes again. Lights go out, reveal black trees
that regiment the avenues. He catches it: the moment
when the spider hides against a muted bark.
Sun will come out, birds flick their wings and twitter,
dogs, their muzzles down, will search.

     After the film by Steve McQueen. Venice Biennale 2009

Gill Nicholson

Publication: Other Poetry, 2011

Naming Dusk in Dead Languages, 2009, Handstand Press, £8 (£10 with p&p), ISBN 978-0-9552009-5-3;
The Art of Tying Knots, £5 or digital copy at the LitFest (Lancaster) website

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