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Poetry Focus On: SOPHIE F BAKER

Sophie F Baker; photo credit Simon Veit Wilson
Sophie F Baker documents the extraordinariness of the ordinary in poems, because it’s the only way she knows how. She is the recipient of an Andrew Waterhouse Award from New Writing North and an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. Her work has been published in various magazines including The Rialto, Iota, Horizon Review, Smiths Knoll, Ferment Zine and Pomegranate, and she has performed at venues around the country including Morden Tower and StAnza. She has worked at Mslexia for a number of years and lives in Gateshead. 

The Point

We’ll begin this time with the atmosphere—we’re too tired
to consider the vastness beyond. But you say no,
you are not pointing at that. I bring the focus closer
and clouds come clear—I see ducks and ice-cream cones.

But no, you say, not that not that. The tree, I think, and exasperate over
which leaf it might be you’re asking for – because it is an ask,
it seems to me, though a small one. What would I want with a leaf?
you say. What interest would I have, now, in that?

I seek the answers in surroundings. The window, perhaps,
the glass. The very thing I am taking for granted. No.
Your finger, then, the nail upon it. I set up my laugh as I search your face.
Is it that? I ask. Your head is shaking, your eyes are fading fast.

I am firmly in the room, the walls are puce, the smell a distraction
from the truth of it. My laugh is still waiting.
It must be, then, the cells of you. The failing, flailing cells of you
dividing, slowly slower. Your hand, still pointing,

wavers. Your heart beats on. Take care of the pieces, you say,
look to the future. I follow your point backwards up your arm and on
to your stubbled face. It searches mine for the answers
I am looking to you and your gesture to provide.

(originally published in The Rialto issue 71)

In memory

for LA (or LO)

Forgive me, but I am thinking of you again.
They were chopping down the tree in your old front garden
when I woke up this morning. The unknown bird
I hear sometimes will have no place to hide and sing.

I Googled you today; your online presence lists you
at your old address, your other name that rare occurrence
‘no results’ – you are lost. I watched the tree come down
in pieces and exclaimed to you, though I have no reason

to believe you care for birds. I will try just your first name,
maybe, and see where in the world you have flown.
I used to treasure my space in your life, the one last piece
of past. This must be what makes me unknowable now.

The tree is gone and I am home, the bird unsteady somewhere and in flight.
If only I could put it back, magic trunk and green from air.
As it is, I am still waiting to happen across you – perhaps
face to face in some tree-lined avenue we don’t consider home.
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