Light Makes It Easy: Rosie Jackson, Indigo Dreams
The 2020-21 global pandemic and lockdown in particular form the background to this pamphlet collection of topical poems by teacher and prize-winning poet Rosie Jackson.
Jackson’s poem ‘Because These Days Are Dark’ is a good place to begin because this poem, for me, epitomised the philosophy, mood and tone of the whole collection: a kind of calm stoicism and acceptance of the situation coupled with a renewed enthusiasm for nature and the great outdoors:
I need to travel where there are no walls.
I’ll take the rain as much as sun, sky that calls
me on, clouds that look like people I’ve lost.
I’ll hide my key beneath hedgerows, sheep’s-bit,
scramble on cliffs to ox-eyes, kittiwakes,
stalk rocks as stoic as winter.
In similar vein, ‘What Are We to Do with So Much Beauty?’ describes the relief of a first day out of lockdown:
… we walk the ridge
above Chesil Beach, mile after mile of beauty
so intense, our heads spin, the air so clear
we could have shed our bodies, dizzy with the freedom
of pure spirit as we fall upward.
Jackson manages to set the scales between frustration and relief at just about the right balance.
Not all of the poems in this pamphlet worked for me. Several, such as ‘Mailing Poems’, ‘April Is the Cruellest Month’ and ‘Clothed in Mud and Feathers’ read more like pieces of prose.
The one thing I did pick up on when reading this collection was the fact that Jackson’s poems contain surprises. This even extends to the cover art which, unless I am missing something, does not seem to bear any relation to the contents of the pamphlet. Aside from that, I liked the way a poem entitled ‘Where Bluebells Are Thickest’ hardly mentions them at all but ends up focusing on a girl riding a horse down a country lane with a queue of cars behind her. In a similar vein, ‘Snowdrops’ is not so much about new growth but loss. The transition that is made from one topic to another in the former and the multi-layered symbolism that is found in the latter are both achieved with ease in Jackson’s hands.
Even though some of these poems explore issues such as mortality and loss they also respond to beauty and our enduring relationship with the natural world.