Published by Enitharmon Press, 1997: for more information click here.
… poems that are urgent, heartfelt, controlled and masterful
Kathryn Maris, Poetry London.
“It is rare these days to find a book of poems that is so focused, so carefully shaped and so moving”. Anne Stevenson. Blurb.
“A substantial collection on big themes – birth, exile, illness, persecution and death. The author’s voice is both public and personal . . . the lyrics about the poet’s relationship to his infant son remain with me for their delicacy” Orbis.
“I hope very much the advent of proactive fatherhood will spawn more poetry as tender, humourous and, in places, profound as this” Gillian Allnutt, Poetry Review.
“Crucefix uses a quotidian, work-a-day language that doesn’t holler and doesn’t hang about. Its lack of rhetoric sits easily with the subject-matter, at once so ordinary and so remarkable . . . Just as the first and third sections of the book dare to be ordinary, the second undertakes a brave experiment in allowing two languages distanced by history and syntax, to swim together in single poems” Vona Groarke P N Review.
A madder ghost can haunt us all. We see the ghost in our own reflection in the faces of earlier generations. We see it again in the looked-for resemblance to the newly-born. There are times, in Martyn Crucefix’s new collection of poems, when the madder ghost is glimpsed as a solitary wanderer; at others, it is a figure of confidence, proclaiming something akin to Shelley’s ‘madness’ that nothing in the world is single.
Accordingly, every individual poem in this startlingly original collection stands fully achieved in its own right, yet is steeped in the rhythms and imagery of those around it. Separate pieces build, through the deft and exciting narrative control familiar to readers of Crucefix’s previous work, to sequences concerning the birth of a child, the illness of a father and an astonishing dramatic meditation on the author’s own Huguenot inheritance of persecution and exile.
From this collection . . .
His first, its sudden grotesque
through the trusted surface
of sleep, a scrabbling clutch
to be escaped from,
a tightening on leg and arm,
fastened to his vulnerable
heart, stomach, breath
– yet what manner of thing
is it that makes him burst
into real tears,
the bewildering touch of night,
inconsolable, though stroked
and held to, brought
to familiar light, our warmth
what nightmare, monstrous,
risen black-combed and dripping
from sleep must it be
– and the question enough
to rattle his father too,
as if such innocence and trust,
such never-known-hurt, nor
arm-raised, voice-raised, neglect
could find such ground for fear,
then could not he, or one
with hardly more reason
invent evil and ride
the monster back to the deep
and back still further to waking?
Empty the bath
Late and quiet with all my keys
for the door, I hope you’ve not
yet been laid in your cot,
but find in the bathroom
a tubful of water, empty, well-
used and barely lukewarm
and to tell you the truth,
there’s the earth of my regret,
the little warmth the water
has, its tiny fractions
stolen from your playful heat
how it shows I’ve come too late
for the intimacy
of your straight-backed body
cut at the waist by cooling water,
those few gallons of sudsy wash
that cooled that much more slowly
for you being there
that now I let go, stir away
with both hands, think something
obvious, grasping what is gone.