Eyewear is very glad to welcome British poet Heidi Williamson (pictured) this muggy Friday in London, poised to learn of the referendum results on electoral reform.
Williamson was born in Norfolk in 1971, and lives in Wymondham. In 2008-09 she was Poet-in-residence at the London Science Museum’s Dana Centre, and she is currently Poet-in-residence at the John Jarrold Printing Museum in Norwich.
In 2008 she received an Arts Council England award to help her complete her first collection, Electric Shadow (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), which is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her work has been used to inspire poetry and science discussions in schools and adult creative writing groups, and has featured in NHS waiting rooms, cafés, and at festivals.
Each evening after school you met
like lovers. You angled offerings
through the tired wire fence –
she accepted as the air accepts.
Among the traffic fumes and concrete,
her heavy eyes and warm saluting breath
became your fireside.
Every night you dreamed her
in the spotlight, all small girls
carried on her back, prettily
tramping the ring, high-kicking
over flames to gasps and applause
and for a finale leaping into darkness,
away from the crowds, the beatings.
And when you ran away at last,
north to the gleaming Fens,
you took a husband and a newborn
to be safe. Routines followed. Years
lost like old flames. Chosen
and not chosen became pathways.
Fences were your tightrope.
And when the circus came,
you took your daughter to the fence
to see the ponies waiting – wanting
her to sense that you had stood
daily by a tired wire fence,
calming the soft nose of a pony,
patient, headstrong, poised to bolt.
poem by Heidi Williamson, from Electric Shadow, Bloodaxe Books, 2011; reprinted with permission of the publisher