…redwoods, gentle as grandparents,
collecting their centuries in a map of pale rings.
‘A Thousand Possible Clouds’ — Valentina Gnup
A Glass Map (A Golden Shovel)
Humming its own tune while night grows thick as redwoods;
if I rest my hand on its side I can feel vibrations of a gentle
heat, working so hard to keep too many out-of-date days as
cool as possible. Rows of mustard jars, old as grandparents,
smile, pressing a coin into my hand as they leave collecting
teacups of words trembling on saucers, clinking silver, their
spoons against china, easy to smash. Hot pockets hide centuries
of other poems that allow light, sealed in tight, to flicker open in
a moment when I have my back turned. I reach blind on tiptoes — a
forgotten hoard at the back of these sticky shelves, a glass map
far from perfect. Perishable memory. Testing the lids, each circle of
a black metal heart allows me to press its lid gently — the sound is pale
like a distant tram bell under my finger, travelling my heart in rings.
Sleep was a scythe too heavy
to lift with one hand –
I stood in a field brushed full
of lavender, that clean smell
of a dream half unfolding
when morning is still distant –
I picked some, gathered each
hush and fold into my arms
all the time watching myself
from afar. I knew I had to start
to cut away this sway of purple
hearts, knew you were no longer
waiting for me.
(After Emily Post’s Etiquette (1922): chapter on ‘the engaged couple in public’)
There is said
to be still preserved
somewhere in Massachusetts
a whispering reed through
the long hollow length of which
lovers whisper messages
of tenderness to each other
by a room’s length.
Let us go there,
in the summer heat
separate ourselves only
by long afternoons.
Dressed in my white finest
I will drift out to the back porch
Where it will be too still and stifling
to touch. We will listen to the grass murmur
in the slow evenings and call it romance –
Olga Dermott-Bond’s first pamphlet apple, fallen was published by Against the Grain Press in 2020. Her second collection A Sky full of strange specimens was published by Nine Pens Press this year. She has won a number of poetry competitions including the BBC Proms poetry competition. Originally from Northern Ireland, she lives in Warwickshire. She is a teacher and has two daughters.