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2 poems by Helen Tookey


Morning-room


Sudley House, morning-room, with Keeley Halswelle, Sonning Weir (oil on canvas, c. 1882)


In the morning-room the water slides

over the weir, makes a wide

shallow fall into broken white


the pool above perfectly smooth

mirroring deep blackgreen trees

the pool below all turbulence


& the lip, the line, the place of fall

water dividing itself from itself

or coming maybe into its own.


At the far end of the upper pool

a boat-house reflecting itself

as though itself a floating thing


or as though it extended into the depths

a calm green reception room

where you might sit through eternities


until you felt in yourself the slow pull

the drift to the wide shallow lip

& the shattering.



Leonora


after Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier


When I started to know the truth of my life

I turned within Where else to turn?


I harboured myself I took shelter

inside my name

I was perfectly Leonora

no breeze no flicker ruffling the water


The four of us

stepping our secret minuets

& no one to know the long hours the soft sounds

in the passageway


Only that once only that day

when she said what she said

& I cracked I broke I slipped through my hands

like porcelain


& I ran

back down the winding stairs

& he followed me her young man

her poor fool


I said Don’t you know Can’t you see

and I saw nothing he knew nothing


& I was quick again Leonora

no breeze no flicker ruffling the water


& we went on the four of us

smiling shining perfectly

onto the rocks


____________

Helen Tookey lives in Liverpool. She has published three poetry collections with Carcanet

Press, most recently In the Quaker Hotel (2022).

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