Poem from Heather Phillipson

Heather is another of the readers for Friday’s Mark Ford: Six Children night. Mark was her mentor on the Faber New Poets scheme – if you haven’t already, get hold of her  pamphlet here. This poem has previously been published in The Rialto, Script (artist’s journal) and is forthcoming in Best British Poetry 2011 (Salt)

At First, the Only Concern is Milk, More or Less

The baby wanted to be sure to reach us and came
with hair and no clothes. It’s hardly surprising,
given the expedition. Good afternoon, we said.

The task is to think things up. We said things like:
What is not a strange place? and In the field, look!
the calf’s devotion to a shapeless dairy surge.

This is how it would be if it were possible to forget
Europe and machine-stitched salopettes
and the smell of horses’ noses and that the sky
is identical and words are identical.

A dumb love is in production. There is more to say
and less is said – least of all Mother, I cannot bear
to outlive you, which is all, really, that matters.

Soon it is actual trousers, then aren’t trees smaller
and bigger than trees used to be; one morning, a tortoise,
alone with a lettuce leaf, is both more and less heartbreaking.

But where is the baby that’s going to be fooled
one second by the words, think them relevant?
The nurses retreated to a disinfected lobby.
What else? She was a whole person, but small.

Away from poetry, Heather’s also an artist who exhibits widely, find out more here

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