Poem of the Month: November


Each month Influx Press is featuring a contemporary poet you might not know but definitely should.

Fist
by Hannah Lowe

When my brother put his fist through a window
on New Year’s Eve, no one noticed until a cold draft
cooled our bodies dancing. There was rainbow light
from a disco ball, silver tinsel round the pictures.
My brother held his arm out to us, palm
upturned, a foot high spray of blood.
This was Ilford, Essex, 1993, nearly midnight,
us all smashed on booze and Ecstasy and Danny,
6 foot 5, folding at the knee, a shiny fin of glass
wedged in his wrist. We walked him to
the kitchen, the good arm slung on someone’s neck,
Gary shouting Danny, Darren phoning for
an ambulance, the blood was everywhere. I pressed
a towel across the wound, around
the glass and led him by the hand into the
garden, he stumbled down into the snow,
slurring leave it out and I’m ok A girl was crying in
the doorway, the music carried on, the bass line
thumping as we stood around my brother, Gary talking
gently saying easy fella, Darren draining Stella in one
hand and in the other, holding up my brother’s arm,
wet and red, the veins stood out like branches. I thought
that he was dying, out there in the snow and I
got down, I knelt there on the ice
and held my brother, who I never touched, and never told
I loved, and even then I couldn’t say it
so I listened to the incantation easy fella
and my brother’s breathing,
felt him rolling forward, all that weight, Darren
throwing down his can and yelling Danny, don’t you dare
and shaking him. My brother’s face was grey,
his lips were loose and pale and I
was praying. Somewhere in the street, there was
a siren, there was a girl inside who blamed
herself, there were men with blankets
and a tourniquet, they stopped my brother bleeding,
as the New Year turned, they saved him,
the snow was falling hard, they saved us all.

Next generation poet Hannah Lowe was born in Ilford to an English mother and Jamaican-Chinese father and currently lives in London. This poem was published in her first book-length collection Chick (Bloodaxe Books, 2013), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry 2014. Her published work includes The Hitcher (Rialto, 2011), R x (sine wave peak, 2013) and Ormonde (Hercules Editions, 2014). Her family memoir Long Time, No See will be published by Periscope Press in April 2015. She has a website here: http://hannahlowe.org/

Here is Hannah performing this poem and others at the opening ceremony of Norwich Showcase ’12.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80DAj18Z_DA#t=13[/youtube]