What are you carrying in the backpack, sister?
I’m carrying my life before, out of disaster.
Where are you taking your children now, sister?
To a land west of here, where there’s no master.
How long will you walk with your sorrow then, sister?
Till I hear him calling me, in the hereafter.
A former health worker, Rouse’s three collections are published by Bloodaxe. Sunset Grill (1993) and Timing (1997) were Poetry Book Society Recommendations. The Upshot: New and Selected Poems was a TLS Book of the Year, selected by Sean
O’Brien, in 2008. Her work has also appeared in
The Guardian, London Review of Books and other
journals, and in the US, The Atlantic and Poetry.
Her plays have received rehearsed readings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hastings and Virginia, USA, and Notes from a Moon Station, a video poem, recently featured on the website PoetryFilm as well as on her new YouTube channel. Rouse has been a Hawthornden Fellow and visiting writing fellow at Glasgow and Queen’s universities, and the Cortauld Institute, London. Raised in Virginia, she attended the University of London. Rouse has dual British and American citizenship and now lives in East Sussex. Her latest collection, Ox Eye, is published by Bloodaxe (2022).
The Perilous Void
Lectern, cameras, mikes deceive as the speaker relieves himself openly
of speech, of yea/nays, of un/truth yet oddly is, beyond all others in the
high-ceilinged room, sure-footed round the sweet self's needs. POM POM
goes each new thwack of the I AM as a dozen aides fumble to translate;
proffer lacquered trays of the latest delectable freedoms. Do not under
-estimate the fizz in this, the thermal heft of each safety as it expires, of the
done, undone, and take each kind of care, then: marking
each hectic word as off it cries; shoring up our own.