Fridge, Selima Hill
Rialto, 2021 £6.00
Fridges with legs?
A central theme of Fridge is suicide. But even with the darkest of ideas blowing through, there’s humour. And much of that comes through the strikingly odd juxtapositions. In the title poem (‘The Goose’) a goose, for example, is compared with … a fridge.
Is a goose anything like a fridge? Does a fridge ‘waddle’? Not so’s you’d notice. But look how Selima Hill accomplishes the magic:
the big white goose
who waddled like a fridge,
a fridge with wary eyes on orange legs,
but he was warm
and nothing like a fridge
What has she done here? For me, she’s created a fridge-animation, one with a beating heart and anxious eyes. It’s funny, ridiculous and compelling.
And she’s not done with you yet, reader. Only a short poem, this, but the author’s mid-discussion. She’s talking about the dead, how she’s never wished any of them ‘would come back’. But the goose, she says is the exception, and besides, she’s going to explain just how like a fridge he isn’t and the more she does that, the more your emotions are stirred by the fate of the goose-fridge:
imagine trying to cuddle a fridge,
imagine first cuddling
and then roasting
a fridge that you have loved
You can smile at this, while being moved by the swathe of the unstated ideas creeping up the margins of the poem: softness, cruelty, love, death, absence, mystery, pain.
In ‘The Person in the Drawing Room’, the narrator visits someone who’s dying. When she sits beside the bed, the transformation starts (you can never quite see where it’s going, which is part of the delight). The visitor is ‘transformed’ into
[ ... ] a sack,
a sack the person on the bed is stroked by,
a sack that by some miracle
People aren’t sacks. Sacks can’t run. Geese aren’t fridges. Fridges don’t have legs. And in ‘Other People’s Mothers’, the poet’s mother is not a murderess, although she is a ‘divorcee’ which is ‘something like a murderess’, and as the poet concludes:
[ … ] murder I can understand