Winter Readings: Two Poems by Angela Graham

Angela Graham reads her two poems from our special anniversary issue.


After Iconoclasm: A Reflection on Technique

The emptied niche is a womb,

Perpetually conceiving

And the great window, burst,

A stone-stringed larynx

And the gouge-marks on the eyes of saints

Record in Ogham

How their gaze held the wielder of the knife

And called him, ‘Cain’,

For it’s always murder, of the life

The image veils

(hence the requirement for official


So the icon-breaker is advised

To leave no trace:

No frescoed drapery, no elegant

Plaster shoe,

No painted personhood, and especially

No space

headless torso, alcove,

or pedestal –

Nothing that calls for something.

After Iconoclasm: Annunciation Re-Assembled

Llanfair, Yr Wyddgrug

I could fear an angel who descends,

Majestic, like the Prince he is,

Bearing a tremendous invitation

Through the loggia that frames him

In a garden all enclosed,

But this angel of Yr Wyddgrug

Is Prince only of shards.


His Virgin we must infer

From this piece of blue

And the Spirit from − is that a bird?

Askew as a broken compass.


This Gabriel of Wales speeds,

A comet heading eastward,

His hair streaming behind him

In a cosmic wind.

‘Such an eager face’

All that remains of him.


Enough for us to glimpse

How ardently respect and hope


At the threshold of that girl’s reply.


Banner image: Jo Mazelis. Angel photo: Madeleine Gray.