Susie Campbell's poems have appeared in many UK and international journals, visual poetry anthologies and exhibitions. Currently studying for a practice-based poetry PhD at Oxford Brookes University, Susie is the author of six poetry pamphlets – I return to you, Tenter and Enclosures being her three most recent. Her newest work, The Sleeping Place, will be published by Guillemot Press in 2023.
A Deictic Miracle,
This Boxwood Prayer Nut
Exhibit: Waddesdon Bequest,
To hold and be held, an uncracked walnut, a little earth. There is something strange about this richness, growing into its own boundaries, rank and subtle as a hunted creature. Time has become a strongbox of interlocking branches. Global complexities, plumbed with pipelines of gold, are reduced to wafer-thin discs, slotted one into the other, light bevelled into a compound syntax of mortise and tenon. An articulation of honest wood, it holds the shape and hard veins of the forest by fitting it to the palm: an armillary sphere circling an internal sun, opened by flicking up a tiny hinge secured on its pin. Ahead, glimmering through a tiny screen, carved and fretted to this terrestrial cage, a thimble saint with his trembling hound bows before the stag. Kneeling here, prayer beads in hand, an intricate system of shadow blows from antler and slender branch to form the cross, thorn-sized and lifted to the wooden sky, as outside bends to imitate this reconciliation.
if such ordinary box jar tin or burlap
and if tested unbought night finds an
opening past neighbours fought for
squeaking and scratched open by tiny razor-
sharp and left beyond and further how
the night is done with moss and damp and
squelch and how quickly attaching
themselves to dark are wet marbles if tied
up in a pouch and with mercy new-opened
and sticky and still smelling of sleep as sap
is and here a soft clink of word against
word could be taken for protection a
charm new-minted from darkness against
theirs ours some dispensable such
brittle claims across this globe of glass
could be soothed or silenced if won by
this as talisman
A hill beneath and a filled-in door. This bench, its damp wooden flowers. A dead tree stripped clean and time fucking stops. You reach a corner of you are there.
You are there.
An edge of grief you can park in an empty tongue. The fields are empty.
That’s near enough.
You expect you have come here to honour the dead. An open field looks like battlefield words: gone, absent, missing. You come to hold it in memory but it becomes spongy underfoot.
You do not mean to remember her, the time you brought her here. A list in a notebook of useful words:
Sodden ground but your body remembers so you try to follow even as it is hardening and solidifying, becomes a whole, no longer possible to enter nor be held by it. Nil. Null. Hush. Ssh. Shush. You cannot enter nor explore its spaces nor the dead in their apophatic silence
that gap in words. Listen. Hush.