Guest Poem by A. C. Clarke

A. C. Clarke has published five collections and six pamphlets, two of them collaborative. She was a winner in the Cinnamon Press 2017 pamphlet competition with War Baby and has twice won the Second Light Long Poem Competition. She has been commended in the UK National Poetry Competition (2005) and longlisted in it (2014). Wedding Grief, her most recent collection, was published by Tapsalteerie in 2021. This poem is from Acumen 107.

Crossing the language divide

We commit to speech as we do to a bridge
in the faith it will bring us to the further shore
without cracking, in the faith
the further shore is where we want to be.
What if our words shape themselves differently
in the listener’s ear, distorted by distance or echo?
I love you, say, or I’m sorry. What if our idioms hale
from opposite points of the compass?

I love you, I mean it. But what do I mean?
I’m truly sorry. Is that truly true?
There’s trust in the word tryst, you can hear it
a vowel shift away; another shift and it’s triste.