Two poems by Rosie Jackson

After Stanley Spencer, `The Resurrection: Reunion of Families’
And suddenly they are streaming back from the dead,
unburying themselves,
their tombstones mere props for gossip
now the final day has come.

Only this is not the last day,
but the first of an eternal summer
where loss turns back into desire,
for what can match the pleasure of a kiss
on the tongue of those grown accustomed to tasting nothing?

Nothing more glorious for those whose senses were lost
than these arms around the loved one’s shoulder,
the conjugal embrace, the breasts
that never bruise with too much touching,
the heavy angels spilling out of windows and doors
to welcome them home.

This is what they dreamt of ascending to:
gardens, allotments, lamps pooling light over dinner.
This what they longed to recapture:
reaching round a chest that rises and falls,
the rapture of breath that doesn’t stop.

Flesh ripe with joy now they are touching again,
lovers, mothers, children, fathers, plumped-up wives,
in this light that is never switched off,
these bodies that cannot have enough of each other,
this love that is always being made.
(published in Acumen issue 74, 2012; an image of Spencer’s painting can be viewed here)

Hilda, Unity and Dolls
Following her divorce from Stanley Spencer, Hilda suffered a breakdown and spent some time at Banstead Mental Hospital, Epsom.
Throw me at the wall.
I am carmine, carnelian,
cobalt, ultramarine.
I am soot, opaque pieces
of pigment trying to float their way
into his fat figures
of Christ
of Judas
to step back into that portrait
he did of the three of us –
me in grim-looking spectacles,
Unity and one of her dolls.
The name didn’t work.
We still split up.
I split up.

Think of me when you see him
pushing that black pram
round the streets of Cookham
laden with easels, canvas, oil.
That was my girls’ pram.
It was their moat.
It was where they were rocked to sleep.

I could climb into it, my bones crushed
into paint, sepia coloured ash.
He could transform me
into one of his moon-faced saints.
(image can be viewed here; published in Domestic Cherry 3, 2013)
Rosie Jackson has published poems in Ambit, Acumen, Domestic Cherry, Poetry Salzburg, Tears in the Fence and various anthologies. She is a founder member of Knucklebone Poets Bath, writes short stories and memoir and works in arts and health.