Poem of the week: Tom Pow – ‘In the Museum of Absence’

Outside the circles of twitchers, most of us don’t spend much time thinking about nests. Locating the Nest is a collaboration between poet Tom Pow, artist Lizzie Farey, and printmaker Hugh Bryden (running from 15 March to 18 May at Gracefield Centre, Dumfries).

The exhibition argues that nests, actual and metaphorical, are at the centre of existence. Tom Pow’s poems, which are hung around the exhibition and feature in a chapbook Nest (Roncadora), circle the subject of nests, like a nest circling its eggs.

In the Museum of Absence, in display cases

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the likes of which I sat before as a boy

learning the habits of moor birds and those

of the seashore, lie decaying mountains

of suitcases, calipers, shoes and human hair.

Of the silent panoramas that are not there

is a dun-coloured pyramid of crumbling nests,

each one a carelessly tossed stone on a cairn,

held in place by its neighbours. An unclimbable grief

in which splinters of eggshell shine like teeth.

You can borrow Nest by Tom Pow and Hugh Bryden from the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT. Tel: 0131-557-2876, e-mail [email protected] or see www.spl.org.uk for details.