|Peter Robinson was born in the north-west of England in 1953. Since
1989 he has taught English literature in Japan, at present in Kyoto,
where he lives with his wife and their two daughters. Among his
publications are six books of poetry including a Selected Poems
(Carcanet, 2003), a collection of aphorisms and prose poems called
Untitled Deeds (Salt, 2004), and three volumes of literary criticism
from OUP, the most recent of which is Twentieth-Century Poetry: Selves
and Situations (OUP, 2005). His most recent collections are Ghost Characters (Shoestring, 2006)
and There are Avenues (Brodie Press, 2006).
Forthcoming are Selected Poetry
and Prose of Vittorio Sereni (Chicago) and The Greener Meadow:
Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (Princeton).
A critical Companion to Peter Robinson edited by Adam Piette and Kate
Price is scheduled from Salt for 2006, and a collection of interviews,
Talk about Poetry: Conversations on the Art, is projected from
The Reproduction of Winter
Then with condensation streaming
on an early window pane
and, further, saturated sunlight
staining a white wall where tree shadow's
stencilled over it in tangles
starts a day of squall and bluster,
a day that just can't make its mind up
whether to be rain or shine.
Showers nobody had forecast
tipple from the cloud-drawn edge
to a shifting weather front.
Now towards us on a bridge
come scurrying, with no umbrellas,
caught-out spectres in the haze
and glitter of a river's vistas.
We're dazzled by furiously sunlit pavement;
lately detached, the foliage
is pasted flat on asphalt.
Yes, that's where the old year went.
All over, now, the rain has eased;
an era's ending or there starts
some indifferent phase.
Behind the station, vacancies
gape between post-bombing homes;
and it's like your death or yours
had helped out with the clearance programmes;
it's like somebody else's wars
stripped from the few rheumatic trees
leaves and left them to define
the quick in terms of the deceased.
Their twigs scratch at a sky
where squall and blustery wind-gust
are lowering heads as if for the grace
at a skeletons' feast.
Brained by fronds and branches, crowned
with leafage slipped down over the eyes,
that's how I stumble on this empty beach round midday,
aware of the other ones bending away
beyond headlands, and how these
histories of slow swell lapping on shorelines
make themselves felt as so many mild concussions,
numberless whisperings to a tired mind,
and how at sea defences, harbour wall or bay
smelling an air of fish-work and wrack
I follow the paths by gleaming black anchors,
nets, the floats, and hear dogs bark —
there being that many ways to feel confined.
So as the ocean mitigates silences
and waves flash with daylight piercing through cloud tails,
we're in an in-between chasing our children,
the summer still ending without a finale,
and that's why I wander all down the shoreline,
jetsam and driftwood dried in the sun,
and why, understanding how it's not possible,
count starfish or flotsam, accepting acceptance,
given alternatives, there being none.
And I gaze round the shoreline
at a busy sky's action,
the rough curve of shell-shards
forming its tide mark, your words
backed up by delight and fear
in our two girls' cries.
High time, it's time the sights of these
cormorant sentinels up on a cliff
from a pleasure craft in calmer seas,
or that gull's wing flexing above
raised fingers, its red-tipped beak, its eyes
trained towards food the children leave
on ripple and wave were examples of ....
High time, even if I don't say it enough.