My back’s a lump of clay, becomes a spine
Beneath your fingers, little hard-nosed creatures
That sniff out tangled nerves and sidelong pain
Autonomously probing with a blind man’s
Feel for the beauty of a groove or contour,
Reminding me that I am skeleton.

Now on my back I see the skylight frame
A chasm of unboundedness, space blue.
A half-moon lit up like an x-ray
Tugs at my gravity. You’re earthing me
With pressure: you rotate, push and pull,
Make new the muscles, tendons, of my body,
Create the definition that I lacked
So I may rise like Adam, ribs intact.

by James Harpur

‘Osteopath’ is copyright © James Harpur, 2012. It is reprinted from Angels and Harvesters (2012) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

James Harpur‘s fifth collection, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, journeys into realms seen and unseen, ranging from the landscapes of Ireland to the visionary realms of the mystics. Through the finely textured music of his poems, he explores emotional and spiritual intimacies while keeping a sharp observant eye on the everyday world. Angels and Harvesters displays both human tenderness and an otherworldly wonder, as Harpur continues his quest to reconcile the complexities of the human condition with a deep-seated spiritual longing.

James Harpur has published four previous books of poetry and a translation of Boethius’s poems entitled Fortune’s Prisoner. He is poetry editor of the Temenos Academy Review and has won a number of prizes and awards, including the 2009 Michael Hartnett Award and the 1995 British National Poetry Competition. He has held residencies at the Princess Grace Irish Library, Monaco, the Munster Literature Centre and Exeter Cathedral. He lives in Co. Cork.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos. Visit Anvil’s website here, where you can sign up to their mailing list to find out about new publications and events.

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