Jumping-Shoes (Sidgwick & Jackson)
“Up, valiant soul, put on thy jumping-shoes / Of love and understanding” is attributed to Meister Eckhart by the poet Andrew Young in A Traveller in Time, a poem about the experience of death and its aftermath, and quoted as foreword to Jumping-Shoes, which does touch mysticism in places, and includes some travelling in time. A central poem was inspired by seeing, at an exhibition of Ice-age art, a thumb-sized head carved from reindeer antler. This head, dating from about 25,000 BC, is so lifelike and so individual it must be a portrait. The poem presents the carver talking to the chief whose portrait he is carving. While doing so, the carver is overwhelmed by a vision of 21st century AD people looking at what he has made. Another poem also plays with time, as an actor prepares to go on stage and play an old man.
Aylen is a talented poet, and is using his poetry to do more than be funny or artful.
Martin Booth, TRIBUNE
Old age make-up
The actor is his dressing-room
“Nightly I sit for a couple of hours
Watching the face in my mirror age:
Putty puffing and flabbing my cheeks,
Patched and blotched thready blood-vessel
Bags and wrinkles thumbed into the putty;
Stuffing to pad my stomach and arse;
Wig to dissolve my curtly red hair
Into grey wisps on a nude skin dome.
I drop the spectacles on my rheumy nose,
Attach the cord of my hearing aid,
And shuffle, stick-propped, out to the lights
To earn my salary for the presentation
Of nature’s vilest obscenity – age.
“Three hours later, I watch for my face –
Pallid with spirits and cleaning-oils –
To emerge from the blotches and skin-sag.
I try to give thanks for the miracle
Which throws away my stick, my specs,
My hearing-aid, at the curtain call,
Remembering the millions of innocent clowns,
Who, like the mask-swapping mime with the wrong
Mask stuck to his terrified face, are trapped
With old age puttied on their skin for keeps.”
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