Contemporary poets: 26. Carol Rumens

Born in London and currently living in Belfast, Carol Rumens is the author of five collections of poems, from A Strange Girl in Bright Colours (1973) to The Greening of the Snow Beach (1989). She has been influenced by modern East European poetry, and also edited the 'post-feminist' anthology Making for the Open. Her work combines a tender domesticity and urbanity with a wider awareness of political upheaval.


The news stayed good until Monday morning

When a taxi-driver was shot in the South of the city

And his unnamed schoolgirl passenger injured.

Outside the window, clouds made changeable bruises

And spillings. Bad weather, taxi weather.

I picked up my dish, poured everything down the sink,

Unclogged it with bare fingers, ran for my coat,

Tried to flash back to how it used to be,

Hearing about these things every day of the week

And not feeling cold and sick and hot: the beauty

Of being nobody's lover.

I could hardly stand up as I reached the school railings.

The clouds turned heavy again, opened fire

On my face and eyes with stinging rice-grains of hail.

Bad weather, taxi weather. If it's not there

I'll die, I'll scream, I'll run from here to Balmoral.

But the bike was neatly chained in the shed as usual.

The square-root of the frame, graceful, ice-blue,

Cut me the old two ways: her nearness, her distance.

The sky cleared. I began to look for her

Without seeming to. I stopped feeling sick for her.

Another sickness took over.