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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

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Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
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Done Dating DJs
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Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
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JO SHAPCOTT

 

 

 

Jo ShapcottJo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001; Of Mutability won the Costa Book Award in 2010.

 

 

 

______

 

 

At Guy's Hospital

Back at Guy's

 

______

 

At Guy's Hospital

 

 

Come in, come in

my name is Doctor Keats,

I’m glad you found your way

safely to the Southwark Wing,

Blue Zone, because the online

map can seem a bit

fevered to the poorly,

the way it swipes and zooms

under your finger-trembles.

 

Sit down: you are pale, your pulse

is fretful and when I ask you what

you see when your eyes are

closed I want you to tell me

about the pink wall of your eyelids

the veins and tendrils and floaters

not night-time in an English wood

thick with such life your ears and nose

send purple, sunburn and thickets

to fill your brain with Old Nature

only a shadow-knowledge to us now.

 

You ask me about your prognosis

because I can see inside your body:

I have built for you a magnetic resonance 

imaging machine and will thread

you through it, open you out

in sequences, all your soft artifacts

and concurrent planes pouring into

the screen. You will cease. That much

is clear. If I were you I would stay

melodious for as long as you’ve got,

blushful and ready to be shaken, always,

by your first love, your first sleep.

 

 

*

 

Back At Guy's

 

 

Come in, come in, my name

is Doctor Keats, yes we have met,

I remember the x-ray, the ribs

shifting round towards the spine,

 

turning and turning in a panoramic

slideshow, with a flicker of organic

mystery triggered with every blink.

I am going to read your test results

to you now but note there is no shadow

 

across my face, no whispering among

your notes. Let me check your pulse

for axioms, for nothingness, or the beat

between. You look drowsy, clouded,

blood drawn into your forehead:

 

these may be side-effects only to be

expected in your airy condition. 

Stay steady, entangled; relax and let

your identity press on me until

I am entirely in the know.

  

 

©2016 Jo Shapcott

 

 

Author Links

 

Jo Shapcott home page

Jo Shapcott at the Poetry Archive

Jo Shapcott at the Poetry Foundation

 

 

 

 

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