Robyn Rowland Reviews Margaret Bradstock

By | 27 October 2014

In the aptly titled ‘How large each death will be’, the poet shows us what we all see and many feel powerless to turn back:

There should be bees, but I’ve seen none this year.

Cheated by summer, magnolias are still in bloom
not understanding that it’s unseasonal

the hothouse effect of constant rain

We are all living, the poems convince us, like the poet: ‘as though my passing shadow / were not the shadow of the world.’

This is a far-reaching book, its craft tight and its scope challenging. Barnacle Rock finishes in heavy territory, but its right to this is well-earned by its growing sense of place and, I’m sure, her growing dismay as Bradstock moves from history to the present, watching the same ignorance and lack of appreciation shape both. From those early explorations to current attacks on natural landscape, an enormous scale of history is covered. And I will resist the temptation to bring this review to a cozy end. We are left justifiably uneasy, rising-anxious:

The days are turning in, a chill in the lambent air
like something lost or forgotten, a code mislaid.


Everything is waiting and still
this tenuous, fragile feeling
like hand-held soapstone sculpture.
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