Peter Redgrove

Thou Makest For Me A Skin

When I read a story about Fu Manchu
my mother's face comes into my mind.

Fu Manchu wears a cap of coral beads
and is held in bonds of spiderweb.

Then I thought of my father in his youth,
his brow without a wound.

When did B stop loving me?
I saw it in her frown, her smile.

I have lost my soul,
and replaced it with the soul of a reindeer.

Today on our trip to Penzance
my youngest child tells me
to remember these words —

Dinosaur,
Umbellifer,
Nervosity —

then I'm all right,
remembering the umbellifers at Selsey,
little heaven-assemblage flowers, springing out of the sandy marram,
long ago.

Seeing them, I decided to write poetry.

Also, when I start to imagine dinosaurs
in the landscape, I calm down —
I see caves at the back of houses,
penetrating the cliffs on which they abut,
great cool chalk caves and cellars,
houses clearly equipped with laboratories,
hidden laboratories.

As for nervosity,
what else is that but my own belief
that I am a human barometer,
susceptible to weather, and yet steadily measuring it,
predicting it?

(The odd thing
about TS is the way he didn't care
when I collected up some of his urine
by scraping the earth where he'd pissed.

In this, he reminded me of Coleridge.)

This is a poem collected from the notebooks of the late Peter Redgrove. It has been assembled by the poet's widow, Penelope Shuttle, who provides an introduction to Thou Makest For Me… , and its collaborative process, in The Wolf 18.

 

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