Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

Run by HappenStance Press

Glory Days, Kerry Darbishire & Kelly DavisThe jacket is maroon. Title is in white caps, centred, at the top. The author's names are in small white lower case, centred at the bottom. In the middle are two monochrome photos, one placed to the left, one to the right, and overlapping by a corner in the middle. The top photo is a head and shoulders of a mother with her little girl, probably about three years old. The bottom one shows a mother crouching int he garden with a somewhat older daughter, both posed in summer clothes.

Hen Run, 2021     £4.00

In tandem

Glory Days’ includes thematic work from two writers. Their subject comprises aspects of motherhood, and daughter-mother relationships, from courtship to bereavement. And, intriguingly, the cover features a childhood photograph of each poet with her mother — but without credits to reveal identities.

The poems are accessible and life-affirming, even when dealing with painful issues. In ‘Can A Woman Go Crazy After Giving Birth?’ Darbishire writes vividly about leaving her daughter outside a shop in a moment of postpartum psychosis, and her horror when she realises what she’s done:

I swung out, swept down the road
mac flapping like drowning hands
knowing nothing of the pavement or rain,

imagining her alone … crying … gone.
Shoppers had gathered tut-tutting 
unfit mother
like gnats around a wound, and there

in her pram, safe as a dipper in a stream, my daughter

I love the similes, drawing upon the wildlife of their native Cumbria, where both poets now live. ‘Drowning hands’ links with a Davis poem, ‘8th September, 1972’, reflecting upon the way the death of a sibling was eventually accommodated by her mother:

For years afterwards her drawing gave you comfort
the circle face and smiling mouth
the stick body, arms outstretched
the vertical blue lines above, below.


[…]

For you, her crayon drawing
showed a figure falling through water,
proof that your child knew
and welcomed her fate.

Another favourite poem, Darbishire’s ‘Mirrors’, recollects the poet coming in as a teenager while her mother is playing the piano:

filling the air with passion, her fingers
   swimming fast as brook lamprey
to spawning waters, oblivious to me
   creeping in late to the hallway — that frozen
in-between place I’d check my hair,
   hide love-bites, the warm scent of a boy.

It’s followed by Davis’s ‘I Picture What Will Be Left’:

[ ... ]    in my mirror
the sweep of your fringe, the curve of your lips
passed from you to me
from me to my sons

down the generations
through a hall of mirrors.

Fruit of a workshop exercise about mirrors? Lovely, either way — and Davis’s lines do provide a clue about those cover photos!

Rob Lock