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époque press
pronounced: /epƏk/
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Frances Pope
Poetry

Exp

I told them no, inside my basket-hands.

I shook my face, so swung my jaw

my gilt tongue from the belfry.

 

Eyes at what point of their orbit

blackened? Flush to night and not

perceptible. Faced away to pendulums

 

of gas and gravity. No, I do not.

I shook my ringing skull and said,

I do not think we are. Clasped

 

my stepping heart behind a gate

of knuckles. No, I do not think

we’re friends. Infer that poles

 

are charged to keep the spin we live by

spinning and the towers pealing.

Trust that far apart, the charges

 

waned, and so I say to them,

I do not think we’re friends, not now,

not since my axis

 

dwindled to a spider thread.

Keening darkness flooded north and all

the rest. Where were they then?

 

Bitter as a ragged leaf, so says my tongue.

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Frances is a writer and translator based in Bristol. She previously lived in Montreal where she published two poetry collections, The Brazen Forecast (Cactus Press) and Quarters (Ekstasis Editions). Her work has also appeared in Lantern Magazine, Phantom Drift, Carte Blanche, Asymptote, Québec Reads, L’Organe, and UNAM’s Periódico de Poesía. Frances has been writing for several years and has taken part in spoken word events in the UK, France, and Canada. Lately she has been plunging into electronic music and expanding her work in music journalism.

Of the poem featured here, Frances says:

‘This poem came from a place of darkness, but a darkness that isn’t total. It’s about the bitter feeling of non-forgiveness, and the realisation that something’s been fundamentally lost. But this is met with a sense of freedom in honesty and in being fair to myself. There is physical and emotional distance in the poem, and there’s leaving and returning, all of which came together naturally in the planets, axes, and orbits. Both gravity and human connection are forces that hold everything together, even though we can’t see them. If this force were to wane or disappear, would we drift into oblivion? Withdrawal works both ways in this poem: in the face of “their” emotional absence, I withdraw the status I’d given them until now, realising that something has shifted.’