Kitchen Window, Wells-next-the-Sea

The window of the second kitchen
in what was once a railway house
     looks out on salt-flecked

stones hauled from the sea
and a latticed fence
     where sweetpeas climbed

in summer, now flakes of paper
by a single frozen rose.
     Through the middle pane

another window
where a woman wearing an apron
     leans over

a sink of bubbles,
below the clock above the cupboard,
     her pearl earring framed

by a wave of wavy hair
as she leans and dips
     while from somewhere

out of this grey afternoon the sun
alights on the casement
     and a gold leaf rises. Light hovers

then brightens, follows her
as she enters another room,
      then another.

by Mara Bergman

The Poetry Centre has just launched the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition for 2021! Our judge this year is the fantastic poet Will Harris and as usual there are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. Winners in each category receive £1000 and runners-up, £200. For more details and to enter, please visit our website.

This poem is copyright © Mara Bergman, 2021, and it is reprinted here from The Night We Were Dylan Thomas (Arc Publications, 2021) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Arc website.

Notes from Arc:

Writing about The Night We Were Dylan Thomas, poet Jackie Wills has commented: ‘Like a great photographer, Mara Bergman celebrates the moment and detail at the core of memory. Together, her poems show the great changes families experience – the free and fearless life of a young woman set alongside a dying mother hanging on so she can hold a great-grandchild, the one-sided conversations we have with the dead.

Her dynamism is infectious – you are drawn into this family’s wonder, love, compassion, grief and happiness. Bergman’s poems remind me of Pablo Neruda’s belief in the driving force of love: ‘Hold on to that, don’t let it get away …’ and one of the final poems, ‘The Happiness’, delivers the book’s message: ‘Before it leaves, I will bury it deep enough to save.’

After reading these poems, you’ll feel braced and ready, you’ll feel wiser and more generous, you’ll want to hold on to moments that contain your own astonishment.’

You can read more about the book and buy a copy on the Arc website.

Mara Bergman grew up in Wantagh, New York, and graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta. During her third year, she studied at Goldsmiths College and later made her home in the UK.

Mara’s poetry has been published widely in the UK and abroad. Her collection The Tailor’s Three Sons and Other New York Poems won the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition and was published by Seren in 2015. In 2016, Crossing Into Tamil Nadu won a Templar Quarterly Pamphlet Competition. Her poems have been awarded prizes in the Troubadour competition and the Kent & Sussex Open Competition, among others. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Disappearing Room, was published by Arc Publications in 2018.

Mara works in London as an editor and is also an award-winning author of more than twenty books for young children. She lives with her husband in Tunbridge Wells and has three grown-up children. Find out more about Mara’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on Twitter.

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.