Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sally Crabtree:How to build a shelf (in yourself)

On general demand of the readers of my blog ,and with the  very generous permission of MS Sally Crabtree,British poet,singer and performer ,I bring the original of her poem "How to build a shelf (in yourself) ",presented in my Swedish rendering below.MS Crabtree,who can be found among my friends on the FB ,lives in Cornwall,at present  among other things,works  as advicer  and creative force to a theater in London . She was a member of the British National Team of Gymnastics.She is the only international elite athlete I know who writes high-level poetry. (lg)

Just keep a stillness in you
Like the bubble of  a spirit level
When its found its straightness 

and the line can be drawn
From one corner of your being to the other
The shelf built
For you to place your life upon.

It must be straight , this shelf
Or else your life will just slide off with a slow crash
You’ll have to pick it up again ,  amazed , once more
That it is always flowers that survive
such a crash upon the floor .

You pick them up , these flowers   
And notice that their
very stillness seems to dance
This is the stillness that you want
Dancing like a memory
Playing  hide and seek
In the cupboard of your mind ( Hoping that you’ll find
it but not yet 
And so it holds its breath

Keeps still ..)

You find it !
And it’s a memory of childhood -  those shelves you had
That sagged like a smile
under  the weight of so much happiness
So many books

That all collapsed of course
But it was  laughter spilling out across the floor
You picked a book up with a picture on the front of a high hill that didn’t move
 And yet your eyes rolled down it to a sea that was  so deep
full of reflected sky
So high
You were dizzy with it, laughing

This is the stillness that you want
That contains laughter

You’re sad the dog has smashed
You won it on the rifles  at the fair
There was no end of melancholy prizes at this place 
 Plaster of Paris ornaments
or goldfish in the bags
that always wobbled 
and were never still

You’re wondering even now
 Is it true the hooplas didn’t fit  those plinths ?
That no-one ever won a diamond watch ?
Oh never  mind you loved those dogs
And now this one’s  dissolving in the carpet

You clear away , sweep  up the mess
It takes all  day
Tomorrow you must build your shelf again
And put on it the things that have survived
 The flowers with their
dancing stillness
and an invite which says RSVP 

It is not too late to reply.


  1. Tredje raden i fru Crabrees utmärkt dikt lyder "When its found its stillness". Är detta ett korrekturfel? "When it's found" (alltså "it has found") synes mig vara en rimligt försök att återställa texten.
    Med utmärkt högaktning
    Jan Götesson

    1. Min kommentar åskådliggör hur lätt ett skrivfel händer. Jag menade "Crabtrees utmärkta dikt". På liknande sätt tror jag att en apostrof fallit bort på dikten tredje rad.
      Jan Arvid Götesson