“Slug Language” by Anne Caldwell (Happenstance) – a poetry review


The opening of “Longing is Opened by the Wind”, “Black chimneys become dark throats./ Loose tiles moan like sorrow-tongues.// Uprooted trees fling their bodies over cars/ which crumple at their touch…” puts that longing at its very centre and takes a slanting look at the familiar without being showy or obscure. Each poem creates its own scenery, taking an often domestic scene and letting the details build up to rise above the ordinary. In the title poem, “They have criss-crossed my lino/ all night, wound together like a nest of snakes/ to smear the soles of my feet/ with their silver calligraphy…” shows empathy with creatures that would have most reaching for the salt or slug pellets.

“Painting over Cracks” looks at a relationship breaking down:

“Mugs of half-drunk tea
curdle on window ledges.
I make lists long into the gloom.
Soon we must sit down,
divide up pots, pans,
portions of blame…”

where those long vowels and the alliterative “pots, pans, portions…” add to the sense of resignation, that limbo period between knowing a relationship’s finished but not yet being able to move on because the practicalities have to be sorted out, often in mind-numbing detail. A gently accomplished read that’s worth tracking down.


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