Five new poems from Emily Hasler

Emily Hasler’s poems have been compared to Elizabeth Bishop in the TLS, and to a particularly tidy Rafa van der Vaart backheel in my head. Lovely stuff.

Norwich Cathedral, Advent

So like a kiss: the lipped cloisters and lawn within
lying like a tongue. There – large, damp, warm – the snow

falls and slows time. The close slabs of the paving cluster.
Columns fixed close – here and here – clasp warmth, fit like fingers.

Our feet press the stone, quiet as the snow. But the snow…
Yes, the snow
. And night is barely hidden behind the day.

As sure, as damning as the word yes, the word no,
we strain necks to see where the spire strikes grey heaven.

That tower stands so tall the eyes of all the city are stuck on it:
and bones chime, mouths oh, lips meet the noon-dark sky, the snow.

Norwich Cathedral, Again

Rebuild it now: a square cloister, its diagonal by law
gives the length of the nave. Now imagine a square

with sides that size and there you have a diagonal
the length of the entire church. Easy for

Norman geometry and Norfolk masonry,
given time. The limestone licked to shape. More

time. Begin from the foundations, from before—
Ex nihilo. All straight, all even. Draw a line,

and another there. Build. The horizon we saw
was atilt with snow and the angles difficult to judge.

Still, I know, we made the cathedral, and yes
we made the snow. Then we made the thaw,

the city and the world beyond.



The Ipswich Lectures

To demonstrate, two large borrowed globes
from Malby’s London:
                                 1 x continents
                                 1 x stars
the size of cartwheels, or a large ship’s helm.

Man – moon. Tree to opposite bank.
Distance is no different
between one seaport and the next
and one planet and its neighbour—
or the sun it sails by.
It is only a matter of scales.
Space may be had by the yard.

And we can value it too, in avoirdupois
—each moving bulk in the night’s sky—
for these are goods of weight.

The Astronomer Royal brings
the heavens to Earth,
specifically: to Suffolk.
His fingers span continents,
circle stars. A weave he would
have the worth of from the feel.

The locals clap, but cannot touch.
The globes are expensive
and have not been paid for yet.



An Englishman in Buffalo Bill’s Circus

Because it is necessary to keep him fresh,
though dead, they balance him on a block of ice.
Because he must return all the way from the USA
back to the place he came from.

Because from the indoor sky to the ground
he kept falling – and he must have known.
Because he had rehearsed this death before
had learnt it till his feet themselves were aware.

Because his toes curled against it, set
the gimbal in the chest to right the heel’s
pitch and roll. Because soil resolves the calluses but
bones keep their warp, the work of years.

Because some grief must be kept cold
or watered, while some is taut as wire.
Because there’s no one way to get to the other side
my father enters the room like delight, tells us.



The paragliders

arched above the crags and heights
they mimic the easy flight of large birds
twisting in a show of love or hate
or caught in the same updraft—
they turn and sink and lift, as though gravity
is something that will wait, will keep

even as apes we must have wished
to be up there instead, have strained necks
to see and started then to imagine it—
a difference between ourselves and the land
a buffer of air, taut fingers glancing at clouds
the world below understood in green and blue

if you’re walking there beneath those
that have by birthday holiday or anniversary
come to inhabit the sky, beware:
for that which falls in bundles is new
like those borne in the beaks of birds
and that which comes skittering to the ground

at your feet forgetting how to walk
is yours and yours to deal with
it’s cracked eggshell conscience and all—
their memory of flight will not leave them
no matter how you shade their eyes from the sun
how long you rock them in your featherless arms



Read more from Emily here

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  1. August 31st, 2011
  2. October 31st, 2011

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