Three poems by Jacqui Rowe

New work from a residency at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

1 Nina Lopez

She knows she is a film. Her hair
is spun from chintz. She is fading
into cushions, grows out of upholstery
where someone has split paint like flowers.
M Renoir is he still here?
Her hands are jelly, fingers melting into lips.
Blue, seen through a pool, her face
brightens from the softness of deep water.
Was it he who brought the rose?
Waking is long, long-drawn
waking to the insight of the house,
thoughts scratching at the path,
practice on a far off violin,
piano chords ill-formed
and incidental, music of a car
that fails to start, trees falling to the saw, crackle on the line, on the ridge
a motorcycle grinds, outside of her
the future.
2 Scape

The shadow moving back to counteract
the shadow growing
the shadow giving
plain between the sky and sea
that is both sky and sea at once
and also distance.
You see no pictures in the clouds
sound under water hurts your head.
Is there always someone
in there speaking? Someone
who might be singing?
The grass might move as animals
thunder might toll across the channel
the fear of quiet on the shore.
3 God Bird

Father, the sky was blue and natural
but now it is painted on a curtain.
The evangelist was an eagle
and I a hero in a cape.
My face is a man’s face.
But oh they punctuate my chest
and their points have the qualities of shadows.
I am succulent as leaves,
they rise around me,
fingers of the lotus,
caterpillar eating me.
Mother, my breast is in holes.
Tell me how I should love my predator,
meat for me were I not for him.
Listen to the squeal of birds
that flood my lonely exile on this island,
the leathery shriek of plants,
how someone drones
outside this frame, Lord
another greater god.
Author’s note: In response to Sonic Visions exhibition, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which included electronic music and sounds composed to accompany ‘A Young Woman Seated’ – Renoir; ‘A Seascape’ – Daubigny; and ‘The Flavour of Tears’ – Magritte
Jacqui Rowe is a poet, publisher (Flarestack Poets), mentor, workshop leader, independent literature producer, and Poetry School tutor. @jacquirowe