About the poet
Ruth Padel (b. 1947) has won the National Poetry Competition and written six collections of...
He's gone. She can't believe it, can't go on.
She's going to give up painting. So she paints
Her final canvas, total-turn-off
Black. One long
A charcoal-burner's Smirnoff,
The mirror of Loch Ness
Reflecting the monster back to its own eye.
But something's wrong. Those mad
Black-body particles don't sing
Her story of despair, the steel and
Of the storm.
This black has everything its own sweet way.
Where's the I'd-like-to-kill-
You conflict? Try once more, but this time add
A curve to all that straight. And opposition -
White. She paints black first. A grindstone belly
Hammering a smaller shape
Beneath a snake
Of in-betweening light.
"I feel like this. I hope that you do, too.
Black crater. Screw you. Kiss."
And sees a voodoo flicker, where two worlds nearly touch
And miss. That flash, where white
Lets black get close, that dagger of not-quite contact,
Catspaw panic, quiver on the wheat
Field before thunder -
There. That's it.
That's her own self, in paint,
Splitting what she was from what she is.
As if everything that separates, unites.
from Voodoo Shop (Chatto, 2002), copyright © Ruth Padel 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher
Ruth Padel Reading from her Poems