The Weepers – Lindsay Macgregor
Calder Wood Press, 2016 £5.00
The energy of mourning
So much could be said about this stunningly good debut pamphlet that it’s hard to choose one point of interest. But I’m going to pick up on rhythm, because I love the way these poems change their pace and movement, and the energy that’s released in the process. They dance: sure-footed, beautiful and elegantly varied. And although this is primarily a work of mourning, grief itself can be merrily sober, and sometimes you find yourself foot-tappingly engaged, as in ‘Wortcunning’, with the
true tales of ravens that roosted
on ogres who stole Saint Veronica’s
monikered handkerchief stitched by
her stepmother’s stepmother’s stepmother.
Such rhythmic surges bring surprise and unwarranted delight. Human loss and grief is a dark matter, but these are not dark poems. Witness Miss Petrie who
to ramsons and sorrel,
the floor of the forest,
the charcoal, the clinker,
the embers, the rust.
curdles when cursed.
(Try saying the last two Petrie lines out loud: they are such a pleasure in the mouth.)
Something most unusual is going on here. Whatever it is, it is elliptical and well-turned, secretive and spell-binding, and the turn of phrase and verbal cadence is riveting. I can feel myself succumbing to adjectival overkill now, so I’ll end with another illustration. You can’t miss these rhythms (think Eleanor Rigby) and there is deliberate absence of full stop at the end of the poem below:
As the Duty Nurse closes your lids
with her palms in a last benediction,
you’re hoping for laurels and trumpets in heaven
or devils in horseback in hell. What you never expected