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Tome On The Range

Two Poems By: Charli Newton
Karl Smith , September 27th, 2015 05:24

This week's new writing comes to you, after a short and pensive pause, in the form of two new poems by London-based writer Charli Newton

Bone beds (i)

In Ludlow, the bones of fish
read like a braille on the shore.

You can feel how they fit
each other’s absence.

It is like intonation,
how a rib combs

a spine’s space,

how a tail, a frill of cartilage,

fans a missing fin.
They are laid out as if intended,

a calligraphy of bodies.

A white score on a sea lip,

these chords of broken bone
play to all seasons.

Off-white in autumn,
sea-pearled in spring.

In winter, they shatter
more starrily than any

breath. And in summer,
when the water draws

back its shroud, light
picks out a skull

like a gem, like a vowel.
There is flair in death

as in life. The earth has its own
memory, its own way of telling.


Bone beds (ii)

For the mothers of Tuam
there can be no place spared.

Even the silver-ringed birch
with its arms spread open wide

is shame. God is everywhere
but in the ground. He is vague

as children. Touchable only in name,
like Tommy, whose TB of ’45

is eternal as scripture, but not
the half-moon his hair made

above his eye. Nor the high
white bridge of his laugh.

God’s light whet the stained
glass shards on the wall, and

for the mothers of Tuam,

there was never a prayer heard

in the wooden clogs filing
the courtyard. No holy word

for the ropes of unknown
bones left to legend.

For the mothers of Tuam,
which means burial mound,

there can be no place spared.


Charli Newton is a a writer and sub-editor living in London, working on her first pamphlet of poems on the theme of exosomatic memory.

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