13 Days Remaining
Emily Berry

Monday 20th
posted by Jody Porter in Arts

Well Versed is edited by JODY PORTER

Everything Bad Is Permanent
Emily Berry

Their eyes are grey. My eyes are grey
My wishes are the colour of the dead in numbers
My dying, undelivered wishes. Ours
Would somebody come running. Would they

Prototypes of human sorrow. Protest, despair and detachment
Blank, tearful retreat from mother
Mother, Baby. Stranger, Baby. Baby Alone
People afraid. People terrorised
Banished from (rightful?) birthplace, torn from one another
Blood. Horror. I didn’t know. You did know. Stand up

I was completing a form that said rate my unhealthy emotions
Why. To help myself live better
If that is some kind of duty, or project
Who murders you and who will you murder
Some people don’t put question marks at the ends of questions any more
In case anyone should think they’d be so idealistic as to expect an answer
Then, looking reproachfully at her mother, she demanded ‘Where was you, Mummy? Where was you?’

Where was you, Mummy
As when from a stable place you come unbalanced
I did it once by accident, now I do it deliberately, in plain sight
In decorated sight

Your pain, your pain resonates at a different frequency
I’m not sure it even resonates. I cannot tune into it anyway
It is nothing like my pain which has its precedents in art and literature
Which is worsened by my intellectual appreciation of its finer points
Didn’t we always suspect the pain of intelligent people was truly the most painful
Forgive me quickly/forget me quickly
I know that I must forget you
Is hate a viable form of activism
The place where hate of the self meets hate of the other – for example – who claims that land

I wrote: The sea! The sea! as if that might be a solution
The sea is somewhere anything can happen
You know when two seas come together there is deep pain and pleasure at the border. Tremor of conjoined hopes. Agony of separation after mixing. Let it flow
I sat down. Blood all over me. I wrote
RAGE 90%
FEAR 90%

(I never once dreamed of you
Why did I never
And now I have a question for you, will you answer?
And there you were all this time, in the dead ground.)



Emily Berry's debut book of poems Dear Boy (Faber & Faber, 2013) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Hawthornden Prize. She is a contributor to The Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury, 2013), a compendium of breakfasts.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter –
Connect with Well Versed on Facebook.

Related Articles