It is an enormous pleasure to introduce this month’s guest poet Hilary Robinson. We met many years ago on writing workshops in Manchester.
Hilary Robinson has lived in Saddleworth for over 40 years. Publications include The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Strix, The Morning Star, Riggwelter, Atrium and Poetry Birmingham and several anthologies including Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018), A New Manchester Alphabet (Manchester Writing School 2015), Noble Dissent (Beautiful Dragons Press 2017), Bloody Amazing! (Yaffle/Beautiful Dragons Press 2020) and The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. In 2018 twelve of her poems were published in the first joint DragonSpawn book, Some Mothers Do . . . alongside Dr Rachel Davies and the late Tonia Bevins. Her poem, ‘Second Childhood’ was shortlisted in the 2016 Yorkmix Poetry Competition.
Hilary has collaborated with composition students from the Royal Northern College of Music as part of the Rosamond Prize and was involved in the 2016 Leeds Lieder Festival. She is currently collaborating with composer, Joseph Shaw, on an opera to be performed at the Royal Northern College of Music.
In June 2021, Hilary’s debut pamphlet, Revelation, was published by 4Word Press. Hilary has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. The central section of Revelation is a series of poems which explore the aftermath of betrayal in a marriage. From this section I have selected four poems. Nikolai Duffy says that these poems ‘sing with a lyrical precision that is as authentic as it is unflinching.’
And I beheld the last seven years open up before me
and they gave up their secrets.
And I beheld my beloved’s face concealed by a fine beard
and his feet that were turned to sand.
And I beheld seven office chairs, unoccupied except
for two, on which sat my beloved and his shame.
And surrounding my beloved and his shame were all the places
they had been while I had slept on in our bed.
And all the places they had been were also all the places
he had taken me. And I wept that this was true.
And I beheld his eyes turn to streams as his remorse descended
from him. And lo — his arms reached out for mine.
And I tightened my golden belt around my waist, knelt down
by his side and said that I forgave him.
Every time he went to the window
he saw them. Gangs hired to find us,
gangs armed with torches burning
even though it was early September
and still light. Gangs getting closer.
He’d let everyone down, his partners,
clients, staff, his family. Most of all
he’d let me down in ways I’d never imagined.
Now they were at the end of our drive. Now
he’d found a way to stop the fire he’d caused.
It took four of us to prize his fingers
from the Swiss Army Knife’s twin
blades. I never knew what happened
to that knife. I wiped blood from his hand,
found the doctor’s home number.
The rest is a history of ashes, scorched
earth of a marriage that somehow
bore new life after hospital, after
ECT, after many hours of therapy.
This house still stands.
In the kingdom of glass everything is transparent, and there is no place to hide a dark heart.
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
To become glass, learn to make yourself
fluid as egg-timer sand.
Hone yourself to brittleness with just a little
give to accommodate rough winds.
Research your ancestry — try to enter
the mindset of silica.
Practise the occasional sharp look,
the cutting remark — hide in the shadows.
To become glass, give in — become transparent;
melt into the view from this bedroom.
Trying to Take my Husband to the Antica Carbonera
There is no chance I’ll find the Calle Bembo
with its kinks, its turns, its lamps
hanging above shops of antique Murano beads,
its shiny cobbles and those buskers
trotting out Vivaldi through the season.
No chance I’ll find what translates
where Cath and I ate wild mushrooms
cooked four ways and spent so much
they brought us Limoncello on the house.
Yet here we are. This is the first Venetian street
our feet touch on the way to the Al Codega.
The food is perfectly seasoned. Tonight
we’re on the roof. I have another angle on this street.