Above the Northeast Shoulder

Face the flawless white
of profound frostbite,
she stoops at the porch of my tent,
pale hair brushing my forehead.
One hand touches my arm,
scaldingly cold.

She points to the western arête –
a fin with skirls of cloud
building its north face
to a shell of rime.

That night, I arrange
my oxygen bottles, hunch
under canvas, and wait
for clear sky over the Lhotse Face.
She unzips the tent-flap
and lets in a swirl of blizzard. 

She sits writing
a one-cigarette poem
by torchlight, brow knitting. 

As the temperature drops
she creeps into my sleeping bag –
her kiss sucks the air from my lungs.
I spend all night trying to thaw her.

In the morning,
the pad propped on her knees,
she begins a two-fag poem.
I pass her my Zippo.

by Yvonne Reddick

The Poetry Centre is delighted to say that this week’s poet, Yvonne Reddick, will be reading from her work in Oxford next Thursday 22 March. She will be reading with Shara Lessley, who will be launching her new collection The Explosive Expert’s Wife. Join us for what will be a terrific evening – from 7-9pm at the Society Café. Find more details on our website. Yvonne will also be discussing her academic research about Ted Hughes earlier in the day at Oxford Brookes – contact us for more details.

Have you seen our new ignitionpress pamphlets yet? We have another launch event at the Oxford Literary Festival on Sunday 25 March. Read and hear from the poets: Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, and Patrick James Errington, on our ignitionpress pages, and buy the pamphlets here!

‘Above the Northeast Shoulder’ is copyright © Yvonne Reddick, 2017, and reprinted from Translating Mountains by permission of Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

Yvonne Reddick was born in Glasgow and grew up in Aberdeen, Berkshire and Kuwait. She won a Northern Writer’s Award for poetry in 2016. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as Stand and Shearsman, and been translated into Greek and Swedish. She lives in Manchester and works as an academic researcher and lecturer. Her book Ted Hughes: Environmentalist andEcopoet was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. ‘Above the Northeast Shoulder’ comes from her Mslexia-prize winning pamphlet, Translating Mountains, which features elegies to her father and a friend who both died in mountaineering accidents. You can read more about Yvonne’s work on these pages, and follow her on Twitter.

Seren has been publishing poetry for 35 years. We are an independent publisher specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Seren’s wide-ranging list includes fiction, translation, biography, art and history. Seren’s authors are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across Britain and America, including the 2014 Costa Poetry Prize (for Jonathan Edwards’ My Family and Other Superheroes). Amy Wack has been Seren’s Poetry Editor for more than 20 years. You can find more details about Seren on  the publisher’s website and follow Seren on Twitter and on Facebook

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.