Stillness Is Coming | National Poetry Day

My dear friend Nic died a year ago on Monday. Missed so much. This, on National Poetry Day, for him.



A year in
has not stopped
our yearning,
this anno domini
we know dominates;
still, stillness is coming.

Your stilling broke levees
of such Orlean, Orwellian turbulence
rising angry Leviathan against
this awful Big Brother;
your Friends
your Life
our fight
their loss
still our loss, yet
still, stillness is coming.

The peace of not finishing
the puzzle and leaving it aside
to find contentment in
what fragments we saw;
the pieces scattered,
the utterly broken stillness
once your body had said ‘enough’
unbroken now, your silences
saying enough
our memories
saying enough:
a great man now, still
stillness is coming.

(c) KB 2013


For me, poetry has been one of the ways in which grief has been broken down and transformed. It’s a form that often seems challenging and unapproachable, something that people think should either be silly – like a limerick – or feel is absurd. It’s all those things of course, but is, like music, not something one should approach rationally, trying to pick things apart or understand. My friend and poet Katherine Venn put it so well in a talk:

“when you have finished a poem, you don’t have more information, you have more experience.

For me, writing poetry has often been a form of emotional archeology. One senses things below, patterns in the dried earth or the odd jut of a phrase sticking out from the ground; the lines then not so much created as gradually uncovered, recovered if you will, from tar, from rock, from water, all with their different frictions, their dirt, their damage that the poet must spend time tending to. No poem is unearthed intact. All of them need repair and work, but that’s part of the joy – feeling not so much that you are creating something new, but restoring something that pre-existed, and bringing it back into the light for a while.

Hope you enjoy the day, and enjoy some poets. Personal favourites to recommend that I’ve enjoyed this year: Alice Oswald’s collection Woods etc., and Don Paterson’s collected poems.