Jemma L. King: A Poem


And then the world turned didn’t it.
With every second that swam past, an invisible
river that grew, unmistakably,
to a sea, an ocean
with every second

her cells grew smaller, shrank their protean mass
until one day, as she combed her hair and saw
with every second that her skin looked thinner

and then there were children.
And then the children had children.
And one day the bells rang and she was at last framed,
contained, a masterpiece
of once-charged limbs, unclocked and sinking
inwards. Ashes to ashes
dust to dust.
And then the world turned didn’t it.
Songs were still bellowed in the ale-houses, but they changed
as children threw off their playclothes,
played little emperors and baby-makers on
streets where ancestral atoms once

danced and fought and fucked.
And then somebody held the four corners of the globe,
pulled them taut
so that everybody slid,
tumbled shrieking into
a big, bloody mess in the middle
tangling horribly
on barbed wire and deformed
by a fast repetition of taps, each
hole punching family trees back to the great sift
of the earth’s fabric.

It’s a long way, to Tipperary,
it’s a long way to go.
It’s a long way, to Tipperary,
to the sweetest girl I know.
And for the most part they were forgotten,
un-existed, their collective millenia
mulched and pulped, flattened

for their children’s feet. Their children’s children’s feet.
And the world burst into colour,
grew capillaries and screens,
making everyone special, those billion
loveless pouty stares.
And then the world turned didn’t it.
Goodbye Piccadilly, 
farewell Leicester Square, 
it’s a long way to Tipperary, 
but my heart’s still there.

--from The Undressed, Jemma L. King. By permission of the author.
Jemma L. King is a poet and critic from the UK. Her debut collection, The Shape of the Forest, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Wales Book of the Year Prize and the Roland Mathias. In 2011, she won the Terry Hetherington Young Welsh Writer of the Year Award. Her second collection, The Undressed, is due to be released at the end of June 2014.  Read my conversation with Jemma here.