The NS Poem: Saint of Labour

A new poem by Kathleen Winter.

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I met a man a man who won’t make money.
Extreme, he peels away from the medium


like a soaked label leaving it, listener
in this space of bottomless story.


What part was real, what part imagined
is past, almost past knowing, wind of hay rising


a hundred yards in the sky, ghost coach
coursing the lake’s edge on a wooden road


after May light bleeds away to sea,
eels of light, ribboning.


A thousand years later they burned
the ancient hand-made roads, dug them


up into fire, cremating how many hours,
how many lives of labour.


I watch fire tearing sunwise after dark.
This man must be still to breathe,


hear sheep bleat out to Skellig peaks.
Long work he does to be idle, figure


how to make the sea’s faces on paper.
Among visitors in ruined cottages


we’re the ones whose stained fingers
speak the same solitude.

Kathleen Winter was born in Texas and lives in California. She is the author of two collections, Nostalgia for the Criminal Past and I will not kick my friends, both published by Elixir Press

This article appears in the 22 February 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Sunni vs Shia