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 Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2002), © Peter Scupham 2002, used by permission of the author

Peter Scupham in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.