‘All That Nothing’, read by Hannah Kelly

i.

When I was a child learning to draw my father leant over the page and said,
Don’t forget the gaps

I didn’t know at all what he meant.
I drew anyway, cramming the paper.
Seized.

Did you know there’s a different line for hair, another for cloth, another for stone and lake and knife and hem and grit.

But where are the gaps? he would say.
You haven’t left space for anyone to get into the drawing.

I had no idea what he meant.

Here, he said
Just hold the pencil differently.

ii.

Already, you can draw a leg.
It’s very good.
A leg is hard to draw as you have; to scoop the line over the bridge of the hamstring,
to get the knuckle-shaped bone by the heel.
That is difficult.
But did you know that your lines don’t have to join up?
That the way the pencil goes down and
s w i f t s
across the page
can make – not just a foot

but a leap?

iii.

So when I was older learning to write an instinct stood at my shoulder and said,
Don’t forget the gaps.

I didn’t know at all what it meant.
I wrote anyway. Cramming the paper.
Seized.

Long hours, I bent double over books
And floundered there.
I hurried, harried,
through Lays of welsh hills and the coast of stones
bound by the cadence of those ancient walls
and wandered keenly through the learned halls
of forebears I could not discern
for loudness of their honour.

I don’t want to write a foot

I want to leap.

v.

so

Wake.
Cut out
of noise
the harbour
of
the sliced-up gap and gash through ‘proper’
verse.

It turned up
just
Nicked
nick of time

come lumbering out of the woods
of acre
the wills
of other say-ers words
Shorn
from their strings of verses
Their dark wars
and purses
Their
Ways of
Seeing

And birthed-
there
words came
Mewling
where their strokes
Left off- blunt
and barrowed
Bellowed into
being born
Twice

vi.

I’d love to put Wilfred Owen in a room with Emily Dickenson and see
who comes out standing

only a steady hand
leaves all that nothing in
and lives

viii.

did you know?
An eyebrow is not just many hairs shaped like the bend of a bow
It is a flick of question
or
A tick, darkened at contact, frowning.