November 2000

Tim Cumming


Tim Cumming's poems have been published widely in magazines and anthologies in Britain and America. His first full-length collection, Apocalypso, was published in 1999 by Stride. A poem from that book was selected for The Forward Book of Poetry 2001 (Faber, 2000), an anthology of the year's best poetry. His work has been broadcast on BBC radio and TV, and he has been featured in the New Voices season at the South Bank Centre in London. He lives and works in London.
Handwriting   Click to hear in real audio

He practiced his handwriting,
trying to make it neater for a job application.
He was alone, and he thought about the baby coming.
His wife was at her mother's place.
He cleared up, made tea,
and continued writing.
It didn't get any better.
He could hardly read what he'd just written,
like he barely remembered
what happened last week.
It was a real effort, like DIY,
though he knew that memories,
like a sense of direction,
came in good time, by the by,
rung by rung, like hardwoods.
He'd laid a floor, he'd done that.
He'd laid a pattern he liked,
like the weirdness of his handwriting
spilling from page to page
like undergrowth,
its ragged edges getting under everything he did.
He'd written her the month they met.
Months later she sat him down
and went through it, saying,
What does this say?
And what does this say?



Tim Cumming: Poetry
Copyright 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 14The Cortland Review