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‘A Narrow Field’: a poem from The Cyprian by Amy Crutchfield

We feature here a poem from Amy Crutchfield’s debut collection, The Cyprian (September 2023), a book that interrogates the nature of love, in all its forms. The collection is composed of five parts, reflecting different aspects of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. ‘A Narrow Field’ is the final poem of the fifth part, which is titled ‘Aphrodite Genetyllis – Protectress of births’.

Open, the coffin shocked me.
I had thought that we were more disposed
to keep things hidden.
Thought – I did not tick this box?
In any case, you looked well

wearing the clothes I’d chosen –
light, comfortable linen, a touch of colour.
As per the regulations
there was no one there.
Still, the choice had vexed me.

You wore your hair as a small cloud
with the promise of showers
and I patted it as a child might
size up a stick of floss.
I saw you as a great painting

recovered from a cave or cellar
with me the expert
able to recognise the original.
Bohr said that an expert
is a man who has made

all the mistakes
in a narrow field.
And probably I have made
mistakes on you.
Inside the coffin, a sable curtain

and two pink buds,
my infant fists,
tangled inside it. Tangled
in that way babies have
of grabbing, and I mean really

yanking, their mother’s hair.
The trick being
to stay calm,
even as a tear pricks.
So the baby knows it is not a game

which would only lead to more yanking.
The trick being to stay calm
as you unsnarl yourself
hair by hair
from their grasp.

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