In Defence of Cliché

by Helen Mort

In Defence of Cliché

I write: ice in the fjord as pale as thought

then hear the calving face crash through my language

with a sound (like what?) like cannon fire


and the moon seen by our telescope

refuses to be petal, snowball, sleeping moth,

regarding us with its inhuman face.


The sky is not the cover of a hardback book,

but a sheet I try to lift, imagining the stars

as skin, until the night is veiled green -


a belt first, then a curving whale bone arch,

that strain of time that Hopkins saw

correcting the preoccupation of the world


and we stand like nothing, shaken

from the pockets of our lives, our mouths

stuck on the silent word for awe.