Search for them in the canopy,
among meadow grasses,you won’t spot them;
the thousands of beesthat unzip the air,
follow the day’s weft,that rip the silence like cloth,
tug the tiny hairs on skinwith their ghost music—
bees long dead, bees soon to die,as the ladder of evolution
reaches its vanishing point.They hide here
among birdsfoot trefoil,purple vetch, self-heal,
among hemlock and nightshadeand they wait,
these phantom bees,between the dusty pines
with those who havenothing to fear;
the numberless dead.
Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Traynor
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Jessica Traynor was born in Dublin in 1984. Her poems have been published widely, and her debut collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award. She won the Listowel Poetry Prize in 2011, was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year in 2013, and in 2014 was the recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. She has been commissioned by the Arts Council, Poetry Ireland, and the Salvage Press. She has worked as Literary Manager for the Abbey Theatre and is currently Deputy Museum Director at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. (Author photo by Roisin Jones)
Echoes and hauntings, visions and visitations, glimpses of other worlds in the margins of this … the second collection of poems by Jessica Traynor begins with a brush with death and goes on to explore a startling variety of connections with life and the matter of living. Throughout, from the loss of loved ones to the arrival of a firstborn “no bigger / than a loaf of bread”, the poems stay faithful to a busy cast of characters which includes strangers encountered on a moonlit quay, the infamous propagandist Lord Haw-Haw, and the restless spirits of recent family, national and international history.
“Visionary, luminous and haunted, Jessica Traynor’s poems are home to a host of compelling characters: witches, changelings, the spirit of Hildegard of Bingen. In ‘The Quick’, even the grotesque is rendered with subtle delicacy – a woman whose ‘lungs fold like an origami bird’. These poems will give you goose-bumps.”
“These are poems of such formal ease and control that it is hard to believe this is only Jessica Traynor’s second collection. Her marriage of form and material is accomplished, intelligent and right.”