Heidi Williamson

Two Poems



‘Give me 26 soldiers of lead
and I will conquer the world.’
Benjamin Franklin

My father’s hands
serve a seven-year apprenticeship.
lift a levered eagle with one fingertip.
mix gloopy vats of unworked words.
fill minute gaps with furniture.
dam straggly rivers with careful kerning.
blot daily mistakes onto skin.
bloom inky roses.
bob and weave around pulverising rollers.
ken languages his lips don’t know.
lock up a forme so tight it clicks each letter home.
vary in strength from moment to moment.
swagger the dabber on pooled magenta: a grounded pendulum.
learn to master the predictable but unreliable.
resemble a repeatedly bombarded planet.
develop chemically-pitted crevices; split pink chasms.
are conscientious as the coalman on a steam train.
choose, but never wear handgloves.
hold out each proof as if a missive to his love.
nails grim with grease, lift the paper leaf by leaf.
work a tinnitus of levers.
attend to surface, depth and evenness.
seldom form a printer’s fist but when they do, beware you men of lead.
mark up, mend, are always making ready.
sensitise the stone.
later, grind it clean, begin again, one layer lower.







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