Vona Groarke


The Family Room

The sea loses memory
in midland shallows.
So much of what it has to say
is the sound of a small boy 
in a navy jacket
running over stones

then hunkering 
under triple windows
that empty into evergreens
and seaweed drapes.

There is a shimmer 
of newspaper clippings
and a red pen 
that knows everything
but still needs to be told.

From here on in,
light will be noiseless, 
chastened, as if 
holding its breath.
Ask any question 
of a bolt of smoke;
the scissors will answer 
‘Indeed, indeed’.



The Silk Market

Like an imperial exhibition hall
or train station in an antique town,
all girded light, birds clattering

and voices made of glass…

I had such notions of myself, one time:
silk brocade, embroidery; 
foibles and gee-gaws.

There was nothing for it.

I walked out of deckled halls
into a sun-stained back-room
that serviced thinner streets,

set myself to rummage amongst flaws
in the length and breadth 
of all this stuff, so words like 
‘slub’ and ‘wale’ could be absolved

of their significance

and their outcomes slick
this desk-top, rinsed of sweat marks, 
candle-wax, ink-spills, thumbprints –

all my furiously luminous defects.

How long has it taken me to rise 
from the bench by the shaded pond 
in which, in summer, goldfish flicker

and, in winter, hold their breath;

to take up my position here,
patient like spools 
or bolts of worsted,

impatient like pure gold silk?



Vona Groarke has published two collections with Wake Forest University Press: Flight and Earlier Poems (2004) and Juniper Street (2006). She teaches poetry at both Wake Forest University in North Carolina and at the Centre for New Writing in the University of Manchester. Her latest publication is a translation into English of the eighteenth-century Irish poem, Lament for Art O’Leary (Gallery Press, 2008).