Dinner with Sharon Olds

Tonight the house is unusually silent.
I’m having dinner with Sharon Olds,
an intimate, low key affair,
and she’s just in the middle of telling me
how she broke the news to her mother
that the marriage had ended.
I stop her there, uncork the wine,
pour it slowly into the glass,
watch it settle to a dark lake.
She says how she remembers the magnolia,
how on foggy nights it would stare back at her
like small moons,
like faces empty with dismay.
I set down a small plate of pear
and camembert. She pauses, smiles,
reaches for her wine but
her hand catches the water glass,
sends it spilling over the table,
over the words and the spaces between,
over the absence of him.
I’m sorry, I hear her say
as I roll the deep red wine round the glass,
breathe the scent of love clinging there. 


James Caruth


Crossing the Salt

The thunder layers like ivy around the house and the lights and the film stop before the meal is over. A crack in the dark as the dog jaws a bone under the table, and the fast tick-tock of marbles gathering on the roof tiles as the sky falls lower, and the rain higher above the ground. Shutting the dog inside, its baying fading behind the door, we link arms, our faces shadowed under the umbrella and knock on doors to see how the villagers are handling the night, the one we made accidentally, spilling salt and crossing it with the wrong hand.


Jane Monson


James Caruth was born in Belfast but has lived in Sheffield for the last 25 years. His first collection, A Stone’s Throw, was published in 2007 by Staple. A long sequence, Dark Peak, was published by Longbarrow Press in 2008 and his latest pamphlet, Marking the Lambs, was published by Smith Doorstop in 2012. His poem ‘The Deposition’ won the Sheffield Poetry Prize in 2011.

Jane Monson is a writer, tutor, events organiser and bookseller in Cambridge. Her PhD is on the prose poem and she is the author of Speaking Without Tongues and the editor of This Line is Not for Turning: An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry, both published by Cinnamon Press.