Tuesday Poem: Battersea Bridge by Bill Nelson

Monday, 16th August, 2010

green and blue hijab

She was admiring the view. I saw her jump,

pause first, then jump. She left her purse,

it was black vinyl with a gold buckle.

I didn’t look inside. She wore a hijab, green and blue

and I was thinking how interesting London was

when she climbed over, collapsed like a half-pulled parachute

and hit the water. Her dress billowed like a jellyfish

as she floated away. The Thames was brown and choppy

and she drifted fast, was almost gone –


Then I saw you, for the first time, in pyjamas,

in the hostel kitchen, drinking from a milk bottle.

It was dark, the lights were off, it was night,

you didn’t notice me squatting on the windowsill.



The imagry in this poem is startling in both stanzas. The first stanza hits you with it in the first line and the second tricks you into a false sense of security, then sucker-punches you in the last line with that unusual iamge that reminds me of this painting by Henry Fuseli. I love the way Bill can suprise the reader.

Bill Nelson won the Biggs Poetry prize for best poetry portfolio at the IIML in 2009. He blogs at This is Writing? He writing has appeared in Hue & Cry, The Lumière Reader, Blackmail Press, 4th Floor and Swap Writing and he's also guest edited at Turbine and Blackmail Press. He's also appearing tomorrow at The Sparks Fly Upwards event:

City Gallery Wellington invited eight Wellington-based writers to respond to the work of a particular artist in the Gallery's current exhibition Ready to Roll (29 May-12 September 2010). The writers - Pip Adam, Airini Beautrais, James Brown, Tim Corballis, Chloe Lane, Anna Livesey, Bill Nelson and Lucy Orbell - will read their work at a special evening, entitled The Sparks Fly Upwards, in the Adam Auditorium, at 6pm on Wednesday 18 August.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the hub.


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