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Two Poems by Henneke Sharif

Updated: Mar 1

Henneke Sharif lives in France. She is interested in the relationship between poetry and music, and in experimenting with forms. She is learning to play the piano and the harp.


Here I am, dear tethered being, riding and

rolling the wild whipped tides, while you see-sawing,

ship-sore and yawing so far from land, stand


keening and, in the vastness, you hear a breathing

which, moving from air to water, drop by drop falls into

drowning. This is my subject, its name is yearning,


comes racing to you as the night falls low to

sing at your ear, the crack of a shot to the dancer

a leap in the dank deep heart of the cave: you


must not be afraid. For every cry is an answer

to a ricocheted call, and every force has its equal

in an opposite reaction, so a soaring plane will answer


to gravity’s irrevocable call.

But let us row far from such stable ground,

and enter instead the thrall


of amplitude, twinned and bound

to the tumbling wave that rides its worth

on the raging gap, plumbed crest to trough, and calls it sound.


Here, where the birth of the ship is the birth

of the shipwreck, here, in mirroring water,

you have come back to my altar, your silent berth.


Before this truth I see you falter,

in dead reckoning, this splendour of sums.

But do not fear, for here, here in the water,


this fluent water refutes all zeros and ones.

Here, the wilful world unspools in wonder,

by liquid water, unravels - is undone.


Even in a storm (this one coming and full of thunder)

When now it seems all and each will be broken,

no one thing from another will be torn asunder.


In this great storm you are not forsaken,

take my hand, toward wave and water,

and into the dream awaken,


dreadnaught, to meet sea’s one true daughter.

Let loose the horizon, sun’s fading glow,

the rope once long and now much shorter,


and into the crest bring your land-sore soul.

See, air departing is but duller.

See, light split to prismatic rainbow.


For darkness is but the avalanche of colour.

After me, there is no other.


Peacocks running across the lawn,

iridescent, sing free.

In spring, the crocus raged through the grass,

yellow-lilac, papery leaves fluttered in the breeze,

save for bulbs eaten October last

by hungry eyes watching where they lay

in thick clay pierced and sown,

underfoot in bright light, now appear:

a half-remembered dawn.

A beautiful day such as this,

beneath the shading vine’s tendril-twining touch.

Hear the songbird call ‘much love, much love,’

as we drowse to the beating of wings -

the unknown language of the turtle dove.

All about, life lays fleshing in the fruiting trees,

thickening in pulp and core. July’s ripening hours

bring the dusk in and small, hard apples

suddenly here, studding the blue, will never

bruise or decay.

In this moment are caught

in summer’s flashing latency.

Nor we -

two people in a photo -

once known and sunlit by an apple tree,

become lost to the mud, driven down to the dirt, the layered cement, the thick-set slabs now paving the yard at the tenement halls. Evening shouts call the children from play: ‘hush, wipe your tears, there is always tomorrow.’ The echoes of tag, the drum and the beat of a bright-coloured ball,

tap tapping its way

across the yard

and still.


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