On Writing ‘Lost Summer’, ‘Face’ and ‘Eggshell Flesh’ / K. S. Moore

K. S. Moore discusses her three poems from Issue Ten of The Lonely Crowd.

For me, going outdoors is often the start of an adventure in poetry. It’s that feeling of being in nature. Everyone and everything is highlighted against a background of animated, unspoiled colours.

‘Lost Summer’ began when I saw a neglected boat, sinking into sand.  It was an image that stayed with me and evolved into what I would call a ‘story poem’. It has faint echoes of a ballad in terms of the sea and journey themes, also its narrative style, but it is not restricted by form. As a Welsh person, living in Ireland, I often make the ferry trip back to Wales, so I am familiar with the sensation that lives in the body while travelling by boat, the rhythm that is never still.

The ‘siren catch’ of verse three refers to a person who is not magical as it first appears, but a lost voyager in need of saving. Once onboard, however, she cannot cope with the rolls and jolts of boat travel and longs to be free. At the end of the journey, the boat also experiences freedom from the sea, which turns out to be a death of sorts.

‘Face’ is more true to my own life. It’s about looking in the mirror to apply make up only to see all the flaws of the face staring back. I often find myself thinking deeply at this point in the day, when I am trying to ready myself for challenges, feeling and looking more exposed than I will at any other time. For some reason, memories surface of other versions of myself. In ‘Face’, I have tried to capture a memory of meeting my husband, discovering the similarities in our backgrounds and a mutual love of books.

This love of books led us to take many holidays in Hay-on-Wye, which is where the ‘finding the pages, yellow by yellow,’ comes from. When we first visited, the Honesty Bookshops were still open and Mr Booth himself could still be found at work in ‘Richard Booth’s Bookshop’. A great number of the books on sale were very old. For us, there was something incredibly precious about these pre-loved volumes and the process of learning their secrets together.

On one of our holidays, we stayed at the atmospheric Baskerville Hall.  Built in 1839, the mansion is said to have inspired the setting for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Arriving mid-week, for the first night or so, we pretty much had the place to ourselves and luxuriated in its history and quiet comfort.  At night time, we counted all the books we had bought, stacked them up in piles at each side of the bed, choosing just one to read under the duvet.

By the end of our four night stay, we had accumulated fifty titles and had to buy a big holdall to carry them home! The holdall travelled with us by bus, train, bus again and was finally heaved up the hill to the terraced house we were renting in Mumbles, Swansea. Early on in its escapades, the plastic handle meant for pulling the holdall along with ease had broken. It was the first and last time we bought such a large amount of books in one go. But the story has become part of us, woven into our best moments so far and a reminder of our thirst for words.

‘Eggshell Flesh’ is the most recent of my three poems. I wrote it when pregnant with my second daughter. The second time around, I wrote much more about the experience of being pregnant, probably for the reason that it wasn’t completely unknown to me and I felt a little more relaxed and able to observe and record each stage.

Having said that, carrying a second child, only a year after giving birth, was very hard on my body and the physical pressure is alluded to in the first verse of the poem. The ‘tick-clock pulse’ of verse three refers to Braxton Hicks contractions, which I endured for the last two months of the pregnancy.  Knowing the excruciating pain of labour, these ‘practice contractions’ reminded me of the real thing and the thought of labour scared me much more than it had on the previous occasion.

Visualising the baby that would be joining our family helped to ease my concerns a little, for while I clearly remembered labour, I also remembered that first embrace, the instant entwining of lives and the love that begins and never ends. ‘Eggshell Flesh’ is also the title of the poetry pamphlet I am currently working on. The phrase crosses between mother and child, embodying a shared vulnerability and a new relationship that must grow in order to endure.

K. S. Moore’s poetry has recently appeared in Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Ogham Stone and Crannog. Online magazines: Nutshells and Nuggets, And Other Poems, and Ink Sweat and Tears have also featured poems. Meanwhile, flash fiction and short stories have been published in FlashFlood, Metazen, Number Eleven and The Bohemyth.

© K. S. Moore, 2018. Image © Jo Mazelis, 2018.