Sasha Dugdale is a poet and translator. She has published five collections of poetry and her most recent, Deformations, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her translations of Russian drama have been produced by theatres in the UK and US and her translations of Maria Stepanova’s poetry and prose are published by Bloodaxe and Fitzcarraldo Editions. She is writer in residence at St John’s College, Cambridge.
Perhaps Akhmatova was right
When she wrote who knows what shit
What tip, what pile of waste
Brings forth the tender verse
Like hogweed, like the fat hen under the fence
Like the unbearable present tense
Who knows what ill, what strife
What crude shack of a life
And how it twists sweetly about the broken sill:
Pressingness, another word for honeysuckle
But housewives? Has poetry
Ever deepened in the pail
Was it ever found in the sink, under the table
Did it rise in the oven, quietly able
To outhowl the hoover?
Does it press more than the children’s supper
The sudden sleepless wail?
Did it ever?
It lives. It takes seed
Like the most unforgiving weed
Grows wilder as the child grows older
And spits on dreams, did I say
How it thrives in the ashen family nest
Or how iambs are measured best
Where it hurts:
With the heel of an iron
On the reluctant breast
Of a shirt?
By kind permission of Carcanet Press Ltd, Manchester