12 October, 2015Issue 29.1Creative WritingOriginal Poetry

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Three Poems

Theophilus Kwek

The Weaver

In late May we find the weaver’s nest
fist-sized, and lifted up to heaven
from our hardwood floor by the laundry wires.
We watch from a room. How each day’s increase
adds to that growing world some sense
of time, like a loom’s unknown design,
choice threads, a parent’s full recompense
found and fostered in an evening’s fire.

Within a month the chicks are hatched,
turn clamorous, feed with long beaks.
We become used to their house of thatch,
loud voices, the way she comes in flying low
as if suspended, or treading air
heavy with gift: a mantis clasped in prayer
and twine, a morning’s hard hunting.
Nothing prepares us for the mystery.

How creatures love, and like us, try
to bind the ones they love. I think again
of that first January’s encircling cold,
the boy with the hat his mother made
dark wool wound tight, a woven thing.
The night he leaves without it from The Crown
it is a full hour before he names his loss,
walks adrift along the city’s fault,

sits, comes undone. Three days
till he buys another, which weighs different
though the fabric is the same. Later he learns
it is a matter of technique, doubling
the lines for consistency, the cinch of yarn,
but believes there must be something to do
with the weeks each takes for completion,
those sprigs in the string, time’s ingredient.


What Follows

Deer cull, Wytham
7th February 2015

A moment’s pause before a fist of swallows
spooks the sky above the nearest trees.
Something shakes the fence-bound rows,
bursts through bracken, reappears

on fallow earth: two deer, mud-sprayed
and plunged with melt, lips puckering
to a hoarsened bark, dark eyes like slate
fired in the run. My finger

leaves the shutter for long enough
that bounding across seed-rows they are gone,
the cracked frost making an ashen path
to a gap in the horse-wire thorn,

the next field, and the one beyond
where white tails vanish into wheat.
I look more closely at the ground.
Here they stood, and saw, and blinked back death

then turned with gunshot simplicity,
fled, like any creature would,
but struck on the flint of that eternity
more alive than in the burnished wood.



It was mid-morning. The body flipped,
came to rest face-down on tarmac.
Unaware, the rider went some distance
then, noticing something was amiss,
stopped, dismounted, ran back to where
a gathering clutch of men knelt and stood.
She was already gone. And so were we,
drawn on by the bus’s trajectory
toward our stops, unseeing, unseen
except in one last receding frame.
Steep death. The mind trips at the shock,
chafes at conversation, replays the scene
till the point at which all fall unplanned –
what then? Imagining gains no ground,

is caught in a morning’s too usual arc.
Hard pavement receives the pedestrian
in step as in flight, accounts to no-one
for what forces in our different lives
plot with foreign accuracy
lines of habit and desire, and bear us
away from accidents. Far behind now,
this leaving leaves its quiet mark. Men,
asked by children about their days,
find fewer answers, telling only truths,
and passing afterwards, see in the place
of yesterday’s routine a rupture
in our time, where past and present
futures meet, stop short. A living fault.


‘The Weaver’ was commended in the Four Corners Competition. ‘What Follows’ placed third in the London Magazine’s Poetry Competition.

Theophilus Kwek is reading for a BA in History and Politics at Merton College, Oxford.