One Week, One Span of Human Life, Paul IngsThe whole of the jacket is a water colour on white backing. The images are created by blurring paint in water or perhaps dripping it on and letting it blur into a wash. But the shapes suggest on the left a blueish tree and on the right two people. The one on the left may be male and is blue, the one on the right seems to have longer hair and is more pinky orange. The title is right justified in the top right hand corner, broken into four sections which steadily diminish in size as they go down the page. The author's name is bottom left and left justified, roughly the same size as the top line of the title. The font is sans serif and spindly, and the colour dark grey.

Alien Buddha Press, £8.87    2022


These poems are doorways to those doors that may or may not have to be gone through and thresholds that may or may not have to be crossed in a relationship. Each of the poems is a door into a specific period during one week of Paul Ing’s life. Each poem is allocated a time-slot and some actually take place in literal doorways or on thresholds.

On Monday morning, after an argument with him, Paul’s daughter is sitting on the threshold of their home

on the front porch steps
in defeat
hunched over knees
that are capped by the chin
as deflated children
and dogs do.

Paul literally has to step over her to get past. Then

              I click clack
my way along the path
of [her] direct line of sight
till I’ve shrunk enough
to fit into the doorway
of the car.

On Tuesday, late in the afternoon, Paul watches his daughter asleep on his bed. The door in this poem waits patiently. It does not intrude but it will.

The door in its darkness was patient,
soon to insert time, shape, function.
     [‘On This Occasion’]

And on Friday morning, again there's darkness but this time, there’s no direct mention of the door, just of how you should knock — if you do.

If you knock, then barely knock.
When you enter, do so as if not.
Today she is still in the dark.

Reading these poems has reminded me to look out for the doors I might not be noticing and, once alerted to them, decide whether I should knock and wait for instructions or just open them (albeit carefully) without giving any warning.

And I find I'm more willing to ask myself if I should go through — either on tiptoe or boldly — and if I do, whether I should leave the doors slightly ajar or shut them firmly behind me. What is literal can be metaphorical, and what is metaphorical may be real.

Sue Butler