Reading and Writing – a poem by Anne Whitehouse

Reading and Writing

cento after Virginia Woolf

Their boat tossed on the waves,
and when he looked up,
it was not to see anything,
but to pin a thought more exactly.
Then his eyes flew back again
and he plunged into his reading,
tossing over page after page.

From her hand, ice cold, held deep in the sea,
there spurted up a fountain of joy,
and the drops fell here and there
on the dark, slumbering shapes
of an unrealized world turning in darkness,
catching here and there, a spark of light.

Let it come, if it will come—
the jar on the nerves, the thing
before it has been made anything.

Her thought expanded like a leaf in water
standing on its end with gold-sprinkled waters
flowing in and about it—
a little island rocked round by waters.
She gazed over the sea, at the island.
The leaf looked small and distant.
It was losing its sharpness.
Dabbling her fingers in the water,
she murmured dreamily, half asleep.

A row of rocks showed brown and green
through the water, and on a higher rock,
a wave broke, spurting up a column of drops
which fell down in a shower,
and they listened to the slap and patter,
the hushing and hissing sounds
of the waves rolling and gamboling
and slapping the rocks like wild creatures
who had tossed and tumbled
and sported like this forever.

Frail and blue, the leaf-shape
stood on end on a plate of gold
like the vapor of something
that had burnt itself away.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016), and a novel, Fall Love. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’, 2016 RhymeOn!, and 2016 Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prizes

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