Like the Sorrows

Like innocent. Like serenity. Like the daughters of kings.
Like turbulent. Like prettily. Like my humble shelter.
Like parables and declamation. Like under the lindens.

Like the most marvellous. Like so close to heaven! Like captivated me utterly.
Like an old story. Like I should spare myself! Like embarrassed.
Like Lotte’s eyes. Like seven florins. Like my fate.

Like on the piano. Like the most colourful pictures. Like so much trickery.
Like a silhouette. Like sand. Like a magnetic mountain.
Like folly, or delusion? Like lingering disease. Like my diary.

Like her excellent mother. Like the episode about the princess.
Like immense and ardent. Like sorely beset. Like lost.
Like up in the fruit trees. Like difficulty breathing. Like last fortnight.

Like she vanished. Like greater perfections. Like some affair.
Like this glittering misery. Like moving one place higher up at table!
Like a great soul. Like totally intolerable. Like you are married.

Like all over town. Like the most awful weather. Like mock me.
Like imperative. Like reluctantly. Like the very gate.
Like so pleasantly dusky. Like a soldier. Like it isn’t loaded.

Like scholarly approaches and the usual terminology. Like nothing but.
Like near to Lotte again. Like they coincided. Like apples.
Like burnt-out ruins. Like another man. Like beseech.

Like a note to her husband. Like waistcoat and breeches.
Like empty endearments. Like God’s earth. Like if –
Like in lament. Like void. Like unimportant.

Like overflowing. Like all nothing. Like a hundred times!
Like leafless willows. Like she pleases. Like inexorable.
Like concocting. Like witty games. Like the sin.

Like an ancient poet. Like distraction. Like roses and honeysuckle.
Like he nurtured. Like solace. Like the vastness.
Like he steadily approached. Like her meadows. Like these dreams!

Like beyond? Like further details. Like resolved.
Like today or never again. Like tears descended.
Like the silent hill. Like the boat is broken. Like two linden trees.




In the rose garden

She’s in the rose garden again, staring
at her right arm, its pale soft underside
that never gets the sun, never gets tanned.

It’s very strange, she thinks, because the veins
at her wrist are greenish-blue: but the blood
that’s blossoming, overblown already,

dropping fat petals on her dress, her shoes,
the path with its edging of sharp pointed
tiles (weathered is the word she’ll later hear

and not understand) – the blood is brilliant
startling red, much redder than the clouds
of dark pink roses tangled above her –

red, and at its heart a splinter, a glimpse
of white, bright as the spiny shells that mark
the drop from the patio, where her parents

and the others are talking, moving their
mouths and making gestures, though the sound
doesn’t reach her – the drop from the patio

down to the lawn, and all the way beyond
to where she is, in the rose garden, staring
at her right arm, its strange new blossoming.





They are always speaking of beauty in this valley
but what of this staring into fog, this constant senseless falling of water?
The hill presses like a baffle on the mind
and the rock walls weep, six inches past the kitchen window.

Some great violence formed this clough, this fissure in earth,
and it is the stuff of longest fear: a grip on your wrist, your hand forced down
into this narrowing space of ferny darkness –

It is the salt plain, dull and unsublime, that comes as relief,
the eye relaxing into distance, the mind happily turning – little panopticon,
secured in all directions against attack.






[Helen Tookey lives in Liverpool. Her poems have been published in various magazines and anthologies including New Poetries V (Carcanet), Best British Poetry 2013 and 2014, and the Forward Book of Poetry 2015. Her debut full-length collection Missel-Child was published by Carcanet in 2014. From 2015 she will be a lecturer in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University.]


Copyright © 2014 by Helen Tookey, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.