Lure, Alison Lock

Calder Valley Poetry, 2020     £7.00

Knocked sideways

In the pamphlet-length poem Lure, Alison Lock is ‘lured’ back to the scene of an accident: a fall into a millpond on a Yorkshire moor which nearly cost her her life. Coincidentally I know this place. It is a place that invites a person to meditate on life. How much more intense these thoughts if that life is about to be lost!

The poet remembers how, almost drowned and badly injured, she managed to pull herself out of the water and crawl to find rescue. Perhaps we’ve all wondered what it would be like to drown. Here in the poem’s first part, ‘Revisitation’, the poet takes us under the ‘cold glass surface’ of the pond:

I see, as if for the first time,
roots, stems, leaflets; all the delicates
wavering their palms on tiny hands,
fine capillaries

This is the start of a change in perspective after her fall. She is literally knocked sideways. As she tries to crawl up the bank, the ground is seen from the horizontal, again in ‘Revisitation’:

I have never been so close to ground:
its elements of metal, earth, stone, trash, shit.

And later:

There’s a dead shrew, flattened
on the path. Its pressed body is dry,
paper-thin as if drawn in outline on the earth.
A perfect pointed nose.
I see each hair on its back, smoothed,
even its single eye, upturned

The degraded nature of the surface of the earth, so well evoked in this poem, mirrors the fact that the poet is now ‘truly felled’. Similarly in the hospital, in ‘I am Found’ she writes she’s

never upright.
I see pockets, pens, fob watches, uniforms
from waist to face, nostrils of every size.

Eventually she is able to write, and what she writes makes a perpendicular shape: her back, broken in seven places, is beginning to mend. It is as if the writing itself becomes a potent agent of healing. The lines appear in ‘I am Found’:

but as a part
I am
of all things
my mind
a pool

Anne Bailey