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Apophthegm

June 28, 2010

by Henrietta Cullinan

From the yellow sky in summer afterglow behind
the blackened ash twigs, scratching
my low-pitched roof

to the lightship moored by Trinity Buoy Wharf
in a force five backing six

I look for a Sinai desert,
that’s got our mothers and our fathers,
Theodore, Poemen, Ischyrion, each plaiting reeds
outside his hut:

Gerontion, give me a word,

a must-have word for me who lives where
the ground is hardcore, hand-shell tarmac,
fireweed and mallow breaking through,

a word that winds the slow great greasy
around the daily presses and merchant banks,

that swings a pick-axe three meters deep
into the gravel, turns clinker and broken pots,
washes blue cyanide from contaminated land.


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Henrietta Cullinan was born in London. She lives in East London and teaches Literacy and Creative Writing at Hackney Community College, working with adults and young people. She is a musician, wife and mother. She has had poems published in the Rialto, Iota, Aesthetica, Obsessed with Pipework, Pulsar and Trespass magazines amongst others.

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