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David Harsent: a poem

from Mirrors and Doors

the soft knock water makes in pipes

Go to the half-open door. Open it.

Nothing. Half-close it. Something returns to the far side, shadow side:

scuttle-scuttle-flop. Silence.

It might be deaf-blind you think, survive on one held breath, live

on whatever is dropped and take

its liquid from the mist on mirrors. Little homunculus escapee.

It likes half-light and corners, it likes

the butt-end of hallways where sweepings get left, it likes the soft knock

water makes in pipes at night.

Is it there when you sleep? You don't know. Is it there now? You don't know.

There are rooms in the house

where darkness takes shape. It shares a dreamlife with the unborn.

David Harsent is a British poet and librettist. He has published twelve volumes of poetry. Legion won the Forward Prize for best collection; Night was triple short-listed in the UK and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Fire Songs won the T.S. Eliot Prize. His 2018 recent collection, Salt, was described by John Burnside, choosing it for his Book of the Year in the New Statesman, as "a masterpiece". Homeland, a pamphlet giving Harsent's versions of the eighteen "short, bitter" poems Yannis Ritsos wrote for Theodorakis to set during the Papadopoulos junta, was recently published by Rack Press.

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