Carola Luther

 

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Carola Luther grew up in South Africa and moved to England in 1981. She works in Leeds and lives in the Yorkshire Pennines. Her first book Walking the Animals (published by Carcanet) was shortlisted for the 2004 Forward Prize for best first collection.

 


 

Moving House 

 

It began with the owl moving into the attic

under the chimney where wind lived like an animal,

then the mouse and its offspring bedding down

in softnesses forgotten in the cellar,

then spiders, many of them, hanging their shadows

like string bags beneath them, touching toes

with themselves under lintel and eave,

then flies, dead or alive, lining up on the rims

of windows, followed by the flurry of the neighbour,

mute, with her Christmas card The weeping

donkey, then pigeons, whole flocks, and starlings

going nowhere, then the heron elbowing the owl

now withdrawn deep into the pillow of itself

two steps along into the reaches of the garret;

the postman with his post and the ghosts of the few

correspondents and their waiting people, the community

of churches coming in from their lonely plots

guarding the status of steeples on the tops of hills,

the yellowing hills, six of them, raggy and dying,

with their listing sheep and other ragamuffins

of heather, the child and her plastic farm, 

the fuming woman, the timid woman, the man

who doesn’t have to say a word to keep them all

schtum, the dog and its limp, the cat, unchallenged

king of the cooling car bonnet, the car beneath

its bonnet, tarmac, oil stain, litter, weeds,

wasps stunned by darkness, damp, mould,

rot, the slow and terrible eating and eating,

until it became clear she’d have to pack up

her tarpaulin and trek Ferreira,[1] gingerly crossing

the stepping stones to a new rectangle of light,

a geometric shape of empty grass to set up home in,

where apart from the wind and the creaking

of stars, it might, for a while, be quiet.


[1] A traditional Afrikaans song. “Vat jou goed en trek, Ferreira!” which means: Pack up.

 

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