This thing on my wall

is a felt angel
and there’s a bell hanging
from its feet
and even though I kind of hate
fake angels I hang it
on my bedroom wall
above the heater and when
I lean there for heat I ring
the bell by mistake because my back
or shoulder touches it and
it seems to startle up
a moment of pause, a kind of suspension
brief as a wingbeat. Call it
cartoon   draft     scale model
call it plastico. The thing that starts
the thing that represents.

I bought the felt angel
for someone else. It was Christmas
and the angel was a kind of joke
with vulnerable attached (the bell)
a felt thing I didn’t send
because of all the ways I don’t
and can’t seem to.

How the accidental bell shakes things up –
hope and. Oh maybe just that. Hope really,
and stillness. A kind of presence. Two thrushes
on a bare but budding branch
outside my window. Their whipping glances in here
like very old artists who, I’ve noticed, kind of look around
like birds, quickly and deeply, seeing
beneath the surface to what is veiled –
a bare shoulder inside your shoulder,
a child in black and white across your chest. A burnished sun
rising from your head. All the bodies and compositions that intersect
and breech the borders of your body, what’s deep and what’s depicted.
The tears on the fold line. The black holes.
The hands in the cracked bowl, making the kind of bread
you love.

Image of Lynn Davidson

Lynn Davidson is a New Zealand writer living in Edinburgh. Her latest poetry collection Islander was published by Shearsman Books in the UK and Victoria University Press in New Zealand, in 2019. She had a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013 and a Bothy Project Residency at Inshriach Bothy in the Cairngorms in 2016. Lynn has a doctorate in creative writing, teaches creative writing, and is a member of 12, an Edinburgh-based feminist poetry collective.

Davidson comments: ‘“This thing on my wall” is a true story, in that it’s about how I tried and failed to send a slightly odd present to someone I love. I think the poem is about vulnerability and unexpected gifts. It’s probably also something to do with how we can’t help but go on loving each other even if we trip over in our attempts to show that love. I’m not sure what else to say about this poem. Except to say something about how it arrived. I have been part of an Edinburgh-based feminist poetry collective since 2016. Each month one of us writes a poem and the others respond to it. In our collective we don't comment on each others’ work. We just write and respond in any way that works for us. We just hold the space for poems. And this is where “This thing on my wall” was born.’

​Poem source details >


Lynn’s webpage

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer file

12: a collective of women writers

Photographer credit:  Suzanne Livingstone