Loss and longing provide the theme of this quietly impressive ninth volume by poet Paul Henry. Hurtled out of his familiar life by the end of his marriage, a man reflects on his transposition from marital house in the city to single life in an attic flat in a small town. Living alone once again holds different resonances for the older man, who ‘can’t get the ring out of my finger’ as he returns to the world of socks ‘drying like bats from a skylight’, while his companion books and paintings ‘wonder what they’re doing here’. Past and present intersect, his small sons suddenly grown ‘too tall for their beds’, as he kicks a stone back through his boyhood’s suburban streets in a seaside town, bringing to life teenage lovers and a host of long-dead neighbours. Eighteenth-century Welsh harpist Dafydd y Garreg Wen (David of the White Rock) is reinvented as modern troubadour Davy Blackrock, charting the distance between himself and his own family, song still alive in him, defying age and decline.
Elegiac and deeply moving, these memorable poems are tempered by wry, self-deprecating humour. With characteristic warm lyricism, strong sense of place and sensitive ear, Paul Henry leads us effortlessly across the borders of time, retracing remembered paths to achieve small but consoling epiphanies.
"Henry is working at the core of lyric poetry, with love and loss and the 'deeper river'."
The Poetry Review