Poems by Ian House, linoprints by John Jones
In January 2020 Poet Ian House completed three poems which were inspired by him seeing a trio of linoprints by John, to whom these written compliments came as a complete yet most welcome surprise. Ian has had three collections published by Two Rivers Press – Cutting the Quick (2005), Nothing’s Lost (2014) and Just a moment (2020). Subjects in his latest collection range from a child drawing to a medieval monk cataloguing saints’ bones to stories from Ovid. Reviews of this book praise House’s ‘imaginative sensitivity’ and ‘great technical skill’. Here then are the latest three combinations of poem and print.
Loves mysteries in soules doe grow,
But yet the body is his booke.
( John Donne, ‘The Extasie’ )
The train slips along the coast.
Opposite each other, a couple
gazes through a picture window.
The head and body of each
is inclined at the same angle
as the other’s. The sky is blue.
The sea glints blue and green and white.
He rests his right elbow, she her left
on the foldout table. Their eye-beams
thread the waves, intersect, reach horizons.
Each grips a beaker of coffee.
They neither move nor speak.
What’s between them is everything.
They have gone through some motions. The landscape
is a slow film of trees and trees and russet leaves
passing before her. She leans far back in her seat,
balancing an open, unread book
lightly between forefinger and thumb
at arm’s length on the table’s edge.
He’s leaning forward, his gaze fastened
to some moving point. His left hand clasps
an open, unread book to the table’s midline.
They are statues, sepulchres,
are determined in their looking,
bound by the distance between them.
All they hear is their silence.
On the way
He’s slumped, asleep, in his seat,
hands folded on his lap.
Statues go nowhere; scenery slips by.
Open books are unread on the table,
his at the edge, hers near the middle.
She emerges from the cocoon of her seat,
leans sideways and forwards, presses
to the train’s picture window, lost
in the view of the sumptuous hillside,
the sky’s pale blue promise.
The man in the corridor sees
what can be seen. They alone
can read the book their bodies write.