Jessica Mayhew is interested in the other and people external to the poet along with a sense of family inheritance. There are poems about relatives and friends, other people, neighbours’ gardens, the sea, exploring people’s reactions to the actions of others or their landscape. Although the poet is present, she is often not the subject of the poems. For example in “Pub Lunch”
“A bee trickles on the lip
of your glass. You swat and miss,
sending it into shivering flight,
unseaming chubby jointed legs, coarse
yellow hairs. Unhook the sting,
until all that is left are the quarks
which tumble and fizz like pollen grains.
You’re not listening, you say.”
Readers don’t know who the “you” is but they are ineffectual, neither engaging the poet nor successfully swatting the bee. The bee becomes a metaphor for them: the clumsy flight as clumsy as the efforts of “you” to engage the poet/narrator in the conversation. Not all poems have a air of seeming inconsequence, in “The Great Ocean Road Motel”
”Here is a dark beyond the dark you’ve known,
and that sound will go on uninvestigated
you think, and lie on the top sheet, fully clothed.”
There’s a sense of menace without over-dramatising or labouring the point. “Someone Else’s Photograph” demonstrates skill to complement talent.
By Emma Lee
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