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Featured Poet: Sarah Howe

Eyewear is very pleased, this hot Friday in London, to welcome British poet Sarah Howe, pictured.  Howe was born in Hong Kong in 1983. She studied English at Cambridge and as a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard. She is currently finishing her PhD on Renaissance literature before taking up a Research Fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. In 2008, she won the inaugural London Review of Books Young Reviewer Competition. Her debut pamphlet from Tall-lighthouse, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia, won an Eric Gregory Award this year.  She is one of the emerging poets to watch.

Woman in the garden

after Bonnard

What you see on entering a room –
            the red-checked
blouse, burning
on a chairframe in the attic crook,
            will last a lifetime.
 She smiles to see her slim form continue
            in the sunlit legs
of the stool, the lilac towel fallen across its face,
            and she thinks –
wisteria peeling from the house one mid-April –  
            head cocked
as if marooned on the way to a word.

           
            Mustard flashes
wildly up the wall: the mirror
            is a locked garden
and sometimes she visits that country.
            Through its keyhole
            the stool in miniature
wades a cobalt sea, or some accurate idea of sea –
            a greybird
            with salmon feet
engaged in telling things new
            a song veined
with rust from the throat.
           

She wants someone who will teach her the names
            of trees
their alien natures: the mimosa’s trembling
            yellow and the ornate
mainmast of the ash. The only thing she ever
            longed for
was an enamel bath, the running water
            tinged
with cochineal, a window, somewhere
            heightening the tone –
            the bay at Cannes,
the mountains of the Esterel.

poem by Sarah Howe



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Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand