Issue 20: Linda Anderson


Derrida talked about the patience of shoes

as he argued with an imaginary other. This could be

how poems go. Uncoupled, detached,

they cannot take a step without you. Devoted

like Greyfriar’s Bobby at the grave of his master,

waiting, convinced of an extraordinary resurrection

that does not come.  Or maybe it happens elsewhere

and you don’t know how you got there –

where your father is sitting in the kitchen near

the high window with the polish and the brushes

and the buffers taking his time with this ordinary task –

dead for how many years? – making the shoes shine.


The light was that blue glow of a summer night. Too hot.

The windows were open and the noises didn’t stop. A crescendo

of shouting and then someone hammering on a door, kicking it down.

She wanted a spliff someone told me, after the police had been

and she’d been taken away. These sultry nights

when the inside spills out onto the street.

Through the dark hours I read from the book of abandonment:

What then? What if history touches the skin

like an intimate act and there’s nowhere to go that isn’t it.

Is it the same anger that clothes us that undoes us too?

In the morning carrion crows are flying in circles overhead.

There’s a slight breeze,the drawing of breath, the ghost of rain.

We sit at the kitchen table, hands almost touching.

Letter from an Older Poet

               After Marianne Moore*

Again an envelope of papery insects

to thank you for.

I loved the grasshopper’s spiracles,

the translucent wings; a hint of green

on the thorax. I said to you

years go, words are like objects,

you should collect what you need.

What’s wrong with quoting others?

We’re talking about abstraction after all.

And yet I want to hear your voice,

catch your intonation across a continent,

see your face. Dear traveller

I am lost just reading about journeys:

Von Humboldt, Lamarck, Darwin,

all so obsessed; coping with danger like ants

whose home has been stepped on.

Should I try to paint?

My paintbrush’s plush is consumed

by moth. I’m looking out for anything

I write that has legs.

Imagine their spindles waving to you,

capsized on the page.

Come back.

            * This poem is loosely based on the last poem Marianne Moore wrote to Elizabeth Bishop

Linda Anderson is editing a book on Contemporary Poetry Archives for EUP and is founder/director of the annual Newcastle Poetry Festival, which hosts poets from around the world. She is a professor at Newcastle University.