A Quickening Star, Sue Morgan

Flipped Eye Publishing, 2019         £4.00

Imagery with impact

Sue Morgan’s pamphlet is full of beautiful imagery which does much more than paint a picture. For instance, in ‘Gathering Blackberries at Grange’, Morgan gives a new perspective on the ancient pastime of berry-picking, combining vivid imagery and gorgeous description with a religious metaphor:  

Bounty bursts heavenwards
on barbed arcs. Unreachable,
round and heavy […]

Glistening blood-berries,
bright bobbles along a razor line.

The ‘blood’ which later relates to ‘a thickened crown of thorns’ takes us far deeper into the image of a simple scrumping session.

Morgan’s imagery is also used to approach difficult subjects. In ‘Forced Entry’, she writes a controlled and powerful account of an assault: ‘he knows / a hundred ways to harm without marking’. Her description of the sea conveys a hopeless, used victim:

You are a mash of waves

onto shingle,
dirt-foamed ebb

among darkened cobbles.

Most striking of all, to me, is Morgan’s title poem, ‘A Quickening Star’, about an unborn child:

Until I considered how you’d blown

like simple dust from distant stars, sought out
my hollow space to pause your orbit dance.

Now I breathe again to pirouette you
somewhere infinite.

The poet entwines an image of outer space with what is deeply personal — the body, and feelings of loss. This star’s pause before being pirouetted from the body’s ‘hollow space’ to somewhere everlasting is extremely moving. Space is unreachable — as grief may feel — and there is some comfort in the portrayal of this distant star, existing beyond us.

In ‘Let Red Hibiscus Fall’ Morgan’s imagery depicts small acts of love:

I will brush the road from your feet
with my hair
and feed you fat, warm-scented figs
from the courtyard at St John’s.

Here, two simple gestures suggest great affection and intimacy — true to her style throughout this pamphlet, the poet captures this tenderness in a vividly striking way. 

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