Two poems from Christine Webb’s Catching Your Breath

Catching Your BreathChristine Webb’s new collection, Catching Your Breath, is out from Cinnamon Press, and has its launch on the 20th of September as part of the Lumen Poetry Series. It’s also available from Cinnamon’s site. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear Christine read some of the poems from the collection in the past year or two, and as the two below – taken from the book’s main, elegaic, sequence – demonstrate they’re deeply affecting, full of heart and craft. I’m excited to see them between covers and thrilled to post them here also.



Knowledge

That moment suspended in the dull room
above the streets of the January town

(a branch pecked on the window, but the curtains
shut out the garden of dead chrysanthemums)

– undressing for each other the first time
all I saw was lit up by your body,

its gold and ivory. Such knowledge to bring away,
to carry wrapped through the streets, past naked trees,

into the school where heating pipes clanked and gossiped,
where blackboards expressed decorous equations,

where at the corners of corridors we might breathe in
to pass each other, but did not speak or glance

in case the doorways should break into leaf,
in case the books we carried should burst into flame.


Inside the Mirror

Inside the mirror you’re settled for the night,
your head tucked into the dip of the pillow,

your hands drawn up, just touching your face.
The light that’s kept on for you all night, now,

falls on the curve of your shoulder, smoothing
its green cotton. I take off my shoes, lean

towards the mirror, achieve the exact angle
to hide your cannula, your oxygen tank,

the tackle of your survival. My fingers,
which are practised in touching your skin,

your sleeves – tender even towards your buttons –
undress me quickly: I don’t need to break

my gaze from that framed world where your breath
comes and goes, easy, as strong as mine.


Catching Your Breath launch: Tues September 20, Lumen, 88 Tavistock Place, London WC1, 6.30pm. Read more from Christine here, including her Poetry London Competition winner, Seven Weeks.

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  1. Beautiful, tender poems, and what an extraordinary effect achieved by the juxtaposition.

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