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This poem is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

Five Poems Kelly Grovier

The Things of Snow

It came to us from a distance,
like a horizon
burning through the forest,
and gathered itself into a shape
neither of us recognised, but knew,

and there it shook while you and I
swapped positions. That's not to say
it resembled snow. It did,
but only in the way that snow
resembles other things.

Later, I remembered what it was
and how I'd come to see it,
like waking up and finding that your part
is being played
by someone else. But having secrets

isn't enough. We also wear ourselves
when naked. Luckily, neither of us
has ever thought about these things,
let alone the stars. In time,
we'll all begin forgotten.

Strange Currencies

Because there was no way of seeing
through the jostle of water
nudging our reflection, my mind turned

to other interests: the way
sunflowers stoop to levels that would make
the hair on a dandelion fizz,

and whether all things have shadows apart
from shadows. By the time
the coot had cleared our path, the wake

behind him whispering
to the reeds, an idea began to moil like glass
beneath the stilling surface,

wary of its dimensions, tracing its shape in the faces
wobbling above, weighing
the clouds for some sense of proportion.

Consolations of Philosophy

It wasn't that we weren't there
to appreciate it in all its splendour
when the snow fell on the mountain
blossoming in a mind
that had long since vanished.
We were there, but didn't know

what to look for. The words our eyes
drank from weren't about snow
or mountains but about the complexities
of a relationship that the poet imagined
in the shadow of snow meshing a distance
in which the mountain was only
discernible in flashes: not so much

reading between the lines as seeing the lines
in the context of the snow, the snow
in the context of the mind in the context
of the mountain which imagines a distant
blossoming of eyes. April,
and the complexities of the landscape
aren't at all like those faced by Boethius,

only the suggestion of flowers suggesting
what's lost when love is lost
and the satisfying crunch of frost underfoot -
like a threshold, bringing the awkward mountain
that much nearer.


Since neither of us
had ever found ourselves
in such predicament -

the moon's inflection upended,
insinuating ice,
and the mist threading

a sequin curtain - we
hung there, reaching beyond
what was reasonable,

even for us, listening
for the snow's fingers needling
somewhere distant -

the leaves, clenching
into nothingness and the sky
sifting itself into what might

cradle in a monkey's
palm - a trembling
fistful of stars.



We've come this way before -
haven't we? - the lanes wet, deepening
the burgundy squelch

of leaves, and the hedges plotting an articulate
sky. It's all much
closer now: the gravel path, the spade lying

by the open barn, squints
of spider floss tightening across our eyes.
Clues, yes, all of these -

but what about this scut of blood, these
brittle tools? - ghosts
of a weather, your inflammable skin?


It was you, pixelating in the flicker
of chapels and shadows,
conjuring a world of swallowtails

with bright uchikake wings,
when a moth settled on the steaming
mirror, Zenning the mist

into delicate scrawl, opening a space in
which I could almost make
my face out: almost not see you.


And there will be nights
when, lying awake, I will feel the quiet
heat from the moon's skin

and see against a gauze of darkness a you
that isn't you but one woven
from the ghost grove of ancient mulberries

where the mind purls and spins,
hear the mute chaw of silkworms winding
the earth, unmizzling memory.

This poem is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this poem to
Further Reading: - Kelly Grovier More Poems by... (2)
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