Winter was never nailed down, would slip
from my mother like an expletive that had
her reverting to forty below, trawling wastes
of blizzard-bent woods. Evenings, stretched
out on our sofa, she’d place her toes, lunatic
with cold, to burn in my lap. And I pictured her
in stinging drifts, hoar-scald on her face, nearly
a corpse yet scavenging berries for a child
growled to life in the gaping white.
Always the Hibernian in her.
To worship snowfall. To cover her tracks.
And if I could say she ever found her way back
intact, it was only to bequeath the ice-melt stain
in the bureau drawer, with snapshot of her party trick –
to stand out on the road, join a line of leafless maples
and simply go bare.
by Katie Griffiths
The latest Poetry Centre podcast is now live! Poet celeste doaks talks about her wonderful chapbook American Herstory (Backbone Press, 2019), which explores Michelle Obama’s time in the White House and her choice of artwork for the White House walls! Listen via our website or via the usual podcast providers.
‘The winter inside my mother’ is copyright © Katie Griffiths, 2021 and is reprinted here from The Attitudes (Nine Arches Press, 2021) by permission of Nine Arches Press. You can sign up for the launch of The Attitudes on 22 April via Eventbrite.
Notes from Nine Arches Press:
Katie Griffiths’ debut poetry collection, The Attitudes, is a search for trust and faith – in the body, in the mind, in all those things we seek to hold on to but cannot. Here, we intimately encounter mortality and tread the balance between visceral wisdom and the intellect, between fragile, fallible bodies, and the mind’s hold over them, between the bright spaces and the haunted ones.
In poems that are bold, effervescent, frequently playful, Griffiths approaches serious subjects – eating disorders, ageing, grieving – with a precise and inventive lyricism. The Attitudes compiles multitudes, with layer upon layer of counterpoints, juxtaposing and exploring the unresolvable, all the while seeking to move towards a place of deeper reflection and stillness away from the noise and distraction of the daily business of being alive. An astute and accomplished book which transforms. Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website and sign up for the launch of The Attitudes on 22 April via Eventbrite.
Katie Griffiths grew up in Ottawa, Canada, in a family originally from Northern Ireland. In 2019 she was awarded second prize in the National Poetry Competition with ‘Do not indulge indigo’ and had the pleasure of reading her own Spanish translation of the poem at the Cosmopoética festival in Cordoba, Spain. Her pamphlet My Shrink is Pregnant (illustrated by Anna Steinberg) was a winner in the Live Canon pamphlet competition. In 2016 she was published in Primers Volume One by Nine Arches Press. A member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and Red Door Poets, Katie is also singer-songwriter in the band A Woman in Goggles. You can find out more about Katie’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.
Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke’s debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have published over one hundred poetry publications. Read more about the press here and follow Nine Arches on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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