‘Sequence after Celan’ by Gillian Prew

Sequence after Celan


Spring: trees flying up to their birds 

where the sun is the seeds are freed
their small sound a wound
like death watercoloured and open
           each foliated lung with its breathing understory
                the climb of springtime into the loud light
sky filled with dove-coloured words


the climbed evening
is thick with lung-scrub

a nocturne of oxygen    of spring sillage   the raising of the dead 
and their flowers
the night deer with hooves of heather    the precision of an owl in 
*rooted darkness
                              in the tangled bramble
                              a knot of blood


water needles
stitch up the split
shadow-he fights his way
deeper down, free 

rain wholly itself
a breathing torrent
hitting the half-lit
a million microdazzles     a mouse
    a blinking scut
the fluency of a softer death
a spring nothingness
    a heart-smoke


in the air, there your root remains, there, in the air 

the sky bitten open
the sun exhumed
        clouds bud and bloom
        with roots of rain


All things,
even the heaviest, were
fledged, nothing,
held back.

weeds like wicks ending
weighted by a bursting yellow
re-bloom and climb
    a white tufted voile
like breath solidifying
    the hung lungs letting go
everything uprooted



The green gardens are gone. What is left is a grief-bulb. 
It has no smell or sound, just a dormant red. 
So is the air with its salt and silence. 
So is the hunter with his glacial ethics.

Sequence after Celan is © Gillian Prew

Born Stirling, Scotland in 1966, Gillian Prew studied Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1984 to 1988. Her chapbook, Disconnections, can be purchased from erbacce-press (2011) and another chapbook, In the Broken Things, published by Virgogray Press (2011). Her collection, Throats Full of Graves, has been published in 2013 by Lapwing Publications. A further collection, A Wound’s Sound, was released from Oneiros Books in April 2014.

Her latest chapbook, Three Colours Grief, was published by erbacce-press in June 2016. She is online at https://gprew.wordpress.com/

She has been twice short-listed for the erbacce-prize and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

4 responses to “‘Sequence after Celan’ by Gillian Prew”

  1. Maybe she’s referencing this poem by Celan

    I heard it said by Paul Celan
    (trans. by Pierre Joris)

    I heard it said there was
    a stone in the water and a circle,
    and above the water a word
    that lays the circle around the stone.

    I saw my poplar go down to the water,
    I saw her arm reach down into the depth,
    I saw her roots beg skyward for night.

    I did not run after her,
    I only picked up from the ground the crumb
    that has your eye’s shape and nobility,
    I took the chain of proverbs off your neck
    and with it hemmed the table where the crumb now lay.

    And no longer saw my poplar.


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