Saturday 17 February 2024

Chris Emery, "Modern Fog"

Chris Emery was born in Manchester in 1963. He is a director of Salt, an independent trade publisher, and is the former Director of Operations and Director of Development for The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in North Norfolk. He has published three collections of poetry, a writer’s guide, an anthology of art and poems, and edited selections of Emily Brontë, Keats and Rossetti.

About Modern Fog
This wide-ranging and mercurial collection contains poems on landscapes, living rooms, love and pilgrimage, birds and animals, flowers, grandmothers, novelists and composers, car parks and coastal resorts – all interspersed with modern folk tales. 

At the centre of the book lies a striking twelve-part meditation on the medieval church of St. Helen’s in Ranworth, Norfolk – known as the ‘Cathedral of the Broads.’

By turns bucolic, elegiac or enquiring, Emery’s ludic poems depict our common experiences and anxieties – his conjured worlds always filled with mystery and beauty.

You can read more about Modern Fog on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From Modern Fog, by Chris Emery


          As a deer pants for flowing streams,
               so pants my soul for you
- Psalm 42 :1

When you see that they have passed like fire dreams
you wake to, you ’ll know they have run through
what ’s forsaken. You can ’t remember how
each was elegant, bronze, and silent

where now the hawthorn is readjusting,
waving briefly, having stored such regal frames.
All that remains is absence in sycamore
shoots, alder and ash and rhododendron

that seem urgent now. They ’ve gone, and the dogs
are astounded at the edge of what ’s never
fully grasped : nothing to chase into mould
and stasis below the cold fitting pines,

yet still, inside your eyes, the chestnut haunches
of the broken gods you wish to see here
are this store of grace and loss for you.
It is the last religion in these woods.

The Visit

All the grandmothers in the world
are gathered beneath a willow,
its green drapes are filled with black fly.
They are wearing Linton dresses,
garters, aprons, slippers and brooches,
and they talk about sheep or sewing.

They all agree loudly everything is dying,
even Edna with her tenacious pig,
everyone is dying or ill or drunk,
and men stink. It is three o ’clock, children
begin to squirm from red shadows
to burn like lights in the park.

The grandmothers fall silent, watching.
Some begin to cry at the bright scene
while the children roll their eyes,
wander by the willow, hot with life.
In far hills darkened by diesel, men
prepare tanks for one final visit.

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