The first choice was difficult, because although this site begins in 2006, where would I start from in terms of memory? I was going to choose a favourite classic of mine, ‘As Kingfishers Catch Fire’, by G.M. Hopkins, or something from Robert Duncan’s last book, Ground Work II, In the Dark, or maybe a poem from Geoffrey Hill’s stunning new volume Without Title (UK: Penguin, January 2006). Then, thinking of Geoffrey Hill reminded me of a book I read last year—not that this book was like Hill’s poetry—except for its impeccable technique. The Sky Didn’t Fall is a volume of beautifully crafted poems by Kerry Hardie; this is the first poem in the book:
After the frost-locked week
the grey day eases open like a hand;
the river gleams, the sally stems flare red.
You tell me how you reached that place at night
and, in the morning, in your bed,
opened the guide book, read
of the town’s sitting at the narrowest place.
Outside, the Orinoco and its mile-wide stretch.
Sweat flutes the printed page.
A metal bedstead, thrown-down bags.
Your face there, face here.
A heron standing in the long shine of the weir.
~ Kerry Hardie
Kerry Hardie was born in 1951 and grew up in County Down. She lives in County Kilkenny with her husband, the writer Sean Hardie. This poem was published in The Sky Didn’t Fall, Gallery Books, Ireland, 2003.