Disguised as the Air

Between the chair and table
a musculature
of negative shapes.
The apple-tree thrives
on the ashes of others.
All that I give you
leaves me richer.
Only as corpses
are we entire.
If I hold back my knowing
you might find your own.
You can steal my car
but not my dance-floor.
The hole in the stone
makes for a wish.
The oyster tastes only of sea.
Thanks to what binds me
I am free for a moment.
The lopped-off branches
speed up the greening.
The sun in the monastery
slants through a void.
Love lies hidden
in what is missing.
This bird invents
from a handful of notes.

by Kate Behrens

This week’s poem from Kate Behrens and next week’s from Tom Phillips both come from Two Rivers Press, and are scheduled to coincide with an exciting reading by these two poets and the Press’s editor, Peter Robinson, on Tuesday 19 March at Oxford Brookes. The reading will take place at 6pm in Headington Hill Hall, and all are welcome. There is no charge, and refreshments will be provided! For more details, reply to this message or visit this page.

‘Disguised as the Air’ is copyright © Kate Behrens, 2012. It is reprinted from The Beholder by permission of Two Rivers Press.

Notes from Two Rivers Press:

In The Beholder, Kate Behrens’ first collection, those fleeting moments between people, or between individuals and nature are distilled without judgement or resolution. A deer trapped in a garden makes a dangerous leap for freedom. Someone hangs onto a sense of beauty in the face of a life that is ugly and collapsing or confuses a landscape with long ago childhood play. Things are revealed obliquely, as if by homing in on a subject, its true meaning would evaporate. Nature confronts the poet with its deliberation, pointing up the mysterious gulfs between it and us from a solitude that infuses so many of these poems. The physical setting is often a Europe that feels unfamiliar — flats in cities, the burning horizon seen from a train, or the view from a window seen through the eyes of two traumatised people. But there is celebration here too, as in the ways children can heal, inspire, and teach us how to live, and in nature’s capacity to nourish. For more details about the collection, visit Two Rivers Press’s page here.

Kate Behrens was born in 1959, one of twin daughters to two painters. A runner-up in the 2010 Mslexia poetry competition, who reads regularly at the Poets Café in Reading, she lives in Oxfordshire, and has one daughter.

Two Rivers Press was founded in Reading in 1994 by Peter Hay (1951–2003), an artist and enthusiast for the town and its two rivers, the Kennet and the Thames. In nearly two decades of publishing and with over seventy titles since its inception, it has been described as ‘one of the most characterful small presses in the country’. It focuses on local poets and a significant part of its work explores and celebrates local history and environment. Bold illustration and striking design are important elements of its work, used to great effect in new editions of classic poems, especially ones with some Reading connection: for example, Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, and in collections of contemporary poetry from local poets such as Reading Poetry: an anthology edited by Peter Robinson. It has recently published A Mutual Friend: Poems for Charles Dickens, an anthology with a very distinguished list of contributors, also edited by Peter Robinson. The Press is strongly rooted in the local community and has close links with the University, Poets’ Café, RISC, Museum of English Rural Life and other local groups. Its contribution to Reading’s culture won for it a Pride of Reading award in 2008. You can find more information at the press’s website, and on its Facebook page.

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.