Friday poem: 'Umbrella'

26 November 2015

by Paul Farley

I’m looking for a classical umbrella, 
the kind Freud dreamt of, newly evolved 
from walking-stick, before it lost its ferrule 
or gained a fancy telescopic action. 

I’m not interested in going so far back 
as parasol or bondgrace, or lurching 
sideways into Crusoe’s skin and bones 
contraption, or the lean-tos of antiquity. 

No. I want the deeper, bat-wing pitch 
that swarms and darkens streets in rainy footage; 
a stick with weight and heft – hickory perhaps – 
that lightens when its canopy is raised, 

cut from a cloth that blocks out light as sure 
as camera capes or courthouse head-blankets; 
that, taut, could envelop the listener’s head 
and amplify the racket from a cloudburst. 

Eight spokes, the heavens carved up into zones. 
Italian work, the black Strad of umbrellas. 
I’m still looking, soaked to the skin outside 
an importer of handmade fetish wear.

 

‘Farley's subjects are utterly normal, boring even, but he is committed to a poetry which turns the familiar into the rich and strange.’ – Andrew Neilson 

'Umbrella' is published in The Ice Age by Paul Farley.

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