Wicker | Chris Jones

Swing the water’s door
on blue sky, purling brickwork,
and sun-shoaled windows.

Buoyed on these midstream
popples, I dream an otter.
Its head is a nib
writing light, throat quicksilver.
Whiskers bristle out winter.

Black bricks and smoke drift;
the prows of lit factories
rumble downriver.

Squat, green bulbs, bitter
as smoke, I offer you figs
from Sheffield’s east end.
They have exile’s toughened flesh
and skin; its deep-cut bloodline.

Your small hands ripple
the washed bullion of stars,
this moon’s scratched pewter.

Three haiku and two tanka commissioned by Off the Shelf in 2007 for a riverside development in central Sheffield (click here for details of the commission and the full text of the poems).  A different version of this sequence appears in Jones’s 2015 collection Skin.  Listen to Chris Jones reading the poems on location:


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