allison mcvety | to the lighthouse
Poetry Ribbon

to the lighthouse

i the window

It was Virginia’s charcoaled stare
that put me off: her disappointment
in me, the reader, before I even started.
So I walked in to the exam without her:
without the easel, the skull or the shawl,
the well-turned stocking, Minta’s
missing brooch. In the hall I watched
the future show its pulse and all the girls,
the girls who’d read the book, set off
together, lined up at desks and rowing.

ii time passes

You need a daubière and too much time –
three days’ absence from the plot. Rump
bathed overnight in brandy, a stout red
bought back from France. The liquor’s
boiled once, added back to beef, calf’s foot,
lardons, les legumes. For six hours – or more –
it idles. It can’t be over-cooked. It will not
spoil. At table, a stream of consciousness
breaks out. And it rains. It rains. If not
the stew what was the woman on about.

iii the lighthouse

The year I gave the book another go,
[the year my mother died], I learned
everything big happens in parenthesis –
marriage, birth, the War. Poetry. Is it the full
manuscript or just the bits in the middle
that count. Is it the woman at the window,
marking the hours, from cover to cover –
or these few lines: that as she eased out from
the bank and in to the water the brackets
of it opened and closed about her.

To watch a short reading of this poem filmed at the Saville Club, click here