All the small things
The thing I love about great poetry is the writer’s ability to raise the mundane, the familiar, and deftly draw out a new, enduring meaning.
Ann-Marie Laugher views the world with an acute eye. She really notices things, she draws attention to detail cleverly, concisely — and through those observations, she bids you to step into her often dark and difficult world.
In ‘Absolute certainty regarding a vacated bedroom’, Laugher portrays her grief for her lost daughter, to whom this pamphlet is dedicated, in a simple description of the physical changes that occur within a room.
By the scent of her perfume I knew the room.
I know it now by the lack.
In the removal of ‘footless socks, / the mouldy coffee cups’, the poet strips away painful reminders until she can ‘think nothing of that room again’.
Can all traces of a person be eliminated so easily? I doubt she thinks so for a minute. Like the perfume, the poem lingers on.
Laugher creates a beautiful dozy portrait in ‘House Share’ through similarly precise observations:
The dormitory of ladybirds who sleep behind the blinds dream on.
False widow spiders tweak their sheets of silk.
I’m there, I can see them. I can feel the silence, the atmosphere. I’m moved when in that quiet moment, she asks:
How small should creatures be to die ignored? What is the cut-off point in size? I’d like to know if there’s no need to cry.
This poem is intricate and dainty with its minute observations of fauna in the house. The final statement, ‘You have the strangest definition of living by yourself’, makes me question whether I should treat my own crane flies and spiders not as intruders, but company. Here, they are the focus of Laugher’s poignant scene — it’s around these creatures which her subjects live, love and lose.
For me, the power of this pamphlet is in those small, intimate and seemingly insignificant details. These are what makes Anna-May Laugher’s poetry emotive and rich with meaning.