Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More from UMBRA

This is another odd piece, which I later edited in a brisk fashion to make a much shorter and more structurally cohesive poem, but here you see it in its original form, as part of the lost UMBRA sequence I've been posting up over the past few weeks.

To recap briefly, for those who have not been following the story, UMBRA is a play for three voices: Barton, a retired policeman and widower, Stella, his grown-up daughter, and Umbra, the young woman who turns up on their doorstep, claiming to be the reincarnation of Barton's dead wife.

In this poem, Barton's nervy, rather mentally unstable daughter Stella - whose relationship with her father is claustrophobic to the point of being suspect - begins what turns out to be quite a rapid descent into madness. The focus of her new-found rage and madness, of course, is the newcomer to the house, the intruder ... Umbra herself.


watches Umbra with dislike.
She has come to supersede me.
She looks at her father.

A door, somewhere deep in the house, is being thrown open.
A door that has been locked for as long as she can remember.

He looks back at her over the teacup.
He is not looking at me, Stella thinks.
He is looking through me.

The sharp stench of death recoils.
She clenches her jaw, still watching her father.
Her eyes narrow and flatten to yellow slits:

you, tiger-carver, oak-grower,
breath in the face, fox in the night,
you, sliver of silver, the wound

that works inwards, peacock feather,
one gold eye of the daisy, sun god,
stone ship, Lindworm, shining water:

Green Man, moon shield, bright lover,
whistling falconer, seed on the wing,
trout-poacher, shade-caller, outcrop

on the battered moors, the mistletoe,
salt sea, mainspring, saboteur,
hoofprint, hot forge, death's head:

feast day, firefly, river raft,
laurel wreath, love knot, driftwood-dress,
Launcelot, thirty pieces, weaver's red,

skin-slough, bull's eye, reptile house,
fierce flame, kayak-stitcher, ice-water,
life force, floodpath, side-spur, far father.


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