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Peter Scupham

Image by Caroline Forbes

A Twist of Water

A Twist of Water

It is always pouring itself away.
The scullery tap, when pipes knock and throb,
Wheels its head over a rod of water
With a sugar-stick twist, a cripple's twist,
Which only looks like a stronger, deeper light
Against all the other lights which have wandered
In from the garden.

And under it you can hold your rose of fingers
That has been places - a fistful without memory -
That curled in the womb, that has known
Such crush and pile of stuff, tasks under leaves,
Gestures in rooms where all the talk has run
Far out into yards and yards of blown fabric;
Known running water

Which always runs with a twist, though steady,
Its million beads fused in a shaking rod,
A racing pulse that your weeping hand flows through,
Feeling its lucid weight, the flap of a flame
Through which a finger can pass without much pain.
And still it is pouring itself away,
This trickster's wand

Waved over a tiny, white-lipped cut
Where the blood is rinsed in light, the blood
Which is not thicker than water, and quickly lost,
As if all those hurts which poison the wells
Could be cleansed by something brilliant as this,
Kind, held in a twist, like space, like time,
Which are pouring away.

from The Air Show (OUP, 1988) , copyright © Peter Scupham 1988, used by permission of the author


Peter Scupham

Peter Scupham Reading from his poems


2The Nondescript


4Four Fish

5The Gatehouse

6Song for Sophie

7Answers to Correspondents

8Cat’s Cradle

9When the Train Stops

10The Spanish Train


12Going Out, Lancasters

13Jacob's Ladder

14Under the Barrage

15V.E. Day


17The Web

18A Twist of Water


20Monet's Garden


22The Provisional Thing



25The Key

26First Things, Last Things

27The Clock and the Orange

28Young Ghost

29Dancing Shoes

30From Dying: november 24th 1989

31From Dying: 'I have lived in a world which makes intelligible certain older worlds...'

32From Dying: 'Look in the next room...'

33From Dying: 'Who do you say you are?'

34From Dying: January 10th, 1990

35Watching the Perseids: Remembering the Dead

36Faces Come Thicker at Night

37Night Kitchen

38Leave the Door Open

Books by Peter Scupham