Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham and lives in Hebden Bridge. His pamphlet Faber New Poets 11 was published in 2014, and in the same year he was the Wordsworth Trust poet in residence. His poem Us was included in the anthology The Map and The Clock (Faber & Faber, 2017) and an essay Laburnum Time was collected in the anthology of woodland writing Arboreal (Little Toller, 2016). His first full poetry collection is due with Faber & Faber in 2018.
If I had to put my finger on where this started,
I’d trace a circle round the one moment I came to, or the one
that placed me, a fielder – just past the field, over the rope,
having chased a lost cause, leathered for six…
when, bumbling about, obscured in the bushes,
I completely stopped looking for the ball –
perhaps irresponsibly – slowed by bracken, caught by light
that slipped the dark cordon of rhododendron hands,
a world hidden from the batsmen, the umpires and my team,
like the thing itself: that small, seamed planet, shined
on one half, having reached its stop, out of the sphere of sight.
And when I reflect, here, from this undiscovered city,
well north of those boyish ambitions – for the county,
maybe later, the country – I know something of that minute
holds something of me, there, beyond the boundary,
in that edgeland of central England. A shady fingernail
of forest. The pitch it points at, or past, a stopped clock.
Still, in the middle, the keeper’s gloves
clap at the evening. Still, a train clicks
on far off tracks. And the stars are still to surface.
The whole field, meanwhile, waiting for me,
some astronaut, or lost explorer, to emerge with a wave
that brings the ball – like time itself – to hand. A world restored.
But what I’d come to find, in that late hour
was out of mind, and, the thing is, I didn’t care
and this is what's throwing me now.
From Faber New Poets 11 (Faber & Faber, 2014)