Peter Cash: AS WE WERE (2019)


As We Were is probably the most personal and most poignant of Peter Cash’s collections …
There are fourteen poems – each with its own form – which tell the true story of Peter and Penny (then aged 33-35) and Penny’s children Thomas and Eleanor (then aged 8-10 and 5-7 respectively).

As the relationship between the man and the woman weakened, so the bonds of affection and trust between the man and the two children grew in strength and endure to this day …

on wooden sign-posts is a side-road
to a smuggler’s cave, on survey-maps is
an erotic v and in reality

a sheer expanse of sand and sea
beyond a marram bank. Realists, we plod.
The twentieth century elapses.

Light skips along an escarpment,
sixty miles off. Hunstanton, perhaps. Is
that not the north folk’s coast

adumbrated in a breathless mist?
Doggedly, we sniff the waves’ sharp scent:
to their predictable talk,
the time of our lives elapses.

The camera clicks. We walk,
re-work a jig to Dylan’s tambourine,
but cannot – though the sky’s immense –

keep up an infinite pretence.
Day oxidises in the salmon light:
beneath its breathless pink-and-green,

the twentieth century elapses.
Born halfway through, we must be right
this time or never jig again …

This year, it hurts to see in vain
how accurate one of those snaps is –
to our predictable talk,
the twentieth century elapses.

27th October, 1984.

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