Lost & Found, Vic Pickup
The Hedgehog Press, 2020 £5.99
The poems in this pamphlet reside around the edges. They take place before the world is awake — ‘in the sliver of time between black / and the invasion of day’, in ‘The Dawntreader’ — or after it’s asleep, in ‘Still Life with Toys’: ‘In the playroom waits a heap of gaudy plastic’.
These spaces can be forlorn, but there’s also a loosening, a release from confinement — whether the confines of life lived in fear of superstition, in ‘My Mother Told Me’, or the (ironic) releases of lockdown, beautifully captured in ‘What it Meant for the Women’:
Some days they didn’t brush their hair,
roots reaching up from within, dark and natural.
The poet creeps through these poems and spaces, often looking after others. ‘I tend to her still, though no one sees’, she writes of a ‘yellow rose’ in ‘The Gardener’. And she sits with the pair of specs left behind after someone close has died in ‘Clearing Out’. ‘Your version of the world was seen through these’, she writes:
How could they go from your most needed possession
to utterly useless
There’s of course, sadness, but also, for me, this sense of loosening, growing. I like the rush of the dog towards a joyous swim in the river; especially, juxtaposed with that poem’s title: ‘So Much Wrong with the World’. We pick our way through loss and freedom.
We also have to keep picking ourselves up. The moving final poem, ‘Friends’, documents supportive responses to some kind of collapse. Again, consolations arrive around the edges — like an unexpected kiss sent ‘at 10pm’.
Here’s how that poem draws towards its close, remembering ‘the one who was here’,
and says we’ll work it out and tells me five days after to put some make-up on
and brush my hair and he’s going to say a word and I might not like it but
Maybe resilience is the thing this pamphlet celebrates: the flexibility to absorb the blows and keep noticing all the love round the edges.