My Lethe, motionless between green thickets
Where flags prick up their rust-stained saffron ears,
You hear no splash of oars, no dust-up of lost souls
Except for dragon-flies a-spin, and tadpoles
That hang like little mud-bubbles, expecting
Their childhood gloom to lift, and life bounce up in them.
Your spirit’s airless, Lethe; boot-top-deep,
You’re less ditch than a mouthful of saliva
Drained by a dental tube. So why this leaning
To breathe into your film of suspect glitters,
And leave my slutty kiss? The final flutter on
Posterity? Perhaps a faster current
Washes the tubers, where my hair would tangle
And pass, and finally drag me to pure water.
I’d travel free of earth, rapid and weightless
And miles out of my depth, my shadow flinging
north and north, my coughed-up lungs your rattles
To play with till their fragments swam like tadpoles.
I’d find my cold Elysium, and to keep.
by Carol Rumens
‘The Tadpole Goddess’ is copyright © Carol Rumens, 2010. It is reprinted from De Chirico’s Threads, published by Seren Books, 2010.
A poet, novelist, translator, and editor, Carol Rumens was born in South London in 1944. She started writing at school and went on to study (and drop out from) a philosophy degree at London University. She has won many awards for her writing and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Rumens’s latest collection, De Chirico’s Threads, features a play-for-voices about the life of the painter Giorgio de Chirico, as well as a number of occasional poems, such as ‘The Tadpole Goddess’. You can read a number of other poems from the new collection at the link to the book above. In addition to her own work, Carol Rumens selects and comments upon another poet’s writing each week in her blog on the Guardian website here. She also maintains a website here.
Seren is based in Wales (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) and recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Begun as an offshoot of the magazine Poetry Wales by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea, the press has now grown and employs a number of staff. It is known for publishing prize-winning poetry, including collections by recent Forward winners, Hilary Menos and Kathryn Simmonds, as well as books by Owen Sheers, Pascale Petit, Deryn Rees-Jones, and many others. The fiction list features a new title by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, that was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The high-quality arts books include the recent collaboration between the poet John Fuller and the photographer David Hurn, Writing the Picture. For more details about Seren, visit the publisher’s new website, where there is a blog about Seren’s news and events. You can also find Seren on Facebook and on Twitter: @SerenBooks.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.