Friday, 18 September 2009


This is a poem for my sister, Jo, with reference to Luci, a character in my novel. The title is taken from the ink-blot tests used in optometry and psychology. It is also the title of a song by Rickie Lee Jones. While it is true that the ink-blots are coloured, I should point out that my sister’s drawing was, in fact, in black and white.


for my sister

This is the picture I see.
Just scraps really. Of – from –
childhood; scribbles, doodlings.
Of my sister’s first attempt
at a smiling angel,
which made mummy smile at least.
(now mummy keeps it in a tiny
silver frame, next to a smiling
grandson on the mantelpiece).
I think of Luci’s Roar, or her bloody,
gory sunsets, dripping tears.
Or a crucifix, draped in musical
notation, hung in the music-room.
Rorschachs of the mind;
the silent intellect, shaped, drawn.
You remember, Jo, the one you drew
in your teens, inspired by a line
in a rock-song: “And yesterday
I saw you standing by the river…”
The perspectives were not quite true,
but I liked its skew-whiff charm.
The young boy could have been me,
I don’t know.
And so I took this image today,
walked down to the Waters again,
found a bridge that might have been
the one in your picture. Then
I looked up to the hills; (Blackford,
Pentlands, Calton, Salisbury Crags)
and thought back on my childhood.
How my fraternal love for you found
focus in your profound perspicacity,
far beyond any picture, any image.
Your angel will never quite forget.
And me? I can’t get my angel to smile.
Instead I picture your wise spirit
to give me strength at this time.
It says more than words.

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