The Tuesday Poem

(Italy 2009)

Today I felt the earth shudder
under my bare foot and
my head was dizzy as a ship at sea.

A cup shuffled along the shelf
and a green lemon dropped from the tree and rolled
across the cracked marble of the terrace.

For a second I was arrested
in the moment of lifting a jug of iced
water that slopped over the rim onto my toes.

The roof-tiles chattered as if
someone was running a thumb along the edge
of a deck of cards at Scopa.

And then a pause - everything still.
A breeze fluttering the leaves of the olive trees.
Everything as it was before - except

that the rock I am standing on has shifted
two centimetres further south and,
bare-foot, jug in hand, I have moved with it.

I wrote this when I was living in Italy last year.  Earth tremors are common there, but we also had a couple of quite big earth tremors in England too.  The poem is still a work in progress - it takes me a long time to get from a collection of images or ideas to the finished thing.  With this one, I haven't yet managed to get beyond description. 


  1. Hi Kathleen - We get a lot of earthquakes in NZ - just heard a poet the other day reading a poem which said something about her not being able to write a poem for every earthquake she's experienced - and the audience laughed... Brave of you to put up a draft poem. I like the tiles chattering like a deck of cards at Scopa. The wonder of the shifting earth is evoked strongly in the final stanza.

  2. I love this one - especially the final stanza! Plates, whether domestic or tectonic, are seldom static here.

  3. I like that this is a work in progress - shifting still - like yourself and the earth around you - I too love the final stanza.

    A x

  4. Thanks everyone - I will carry on tinkering. Need to work on line endings I think.


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