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CHRISTOPHER REID

 

 

 

Christopher ReidChristopher Reid is the author of many books of poems, including A Scattering (winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award) and The Song of Lunch (both 2009). From 1991 to 1999 he was Poetry Editor at Faber & Faber, where he worked with Ted Hughes on such books as Tales from Ovid and Birthday Letters, and later he edited Letters of Ted Hughes (2007). He is now a freelance writer and lives in London. His most recent book is the comic verse tale Six Bad Poets (2013).

 

 


 

 

 

The Calabash

 

Having fashioned the first man out of sticks and mud,

God looked at him and thought, ‘Not bad’. But Man

was of a different opinion.

Equipped from the outset with the twin gifts

of speech and dissatisfaction, Man said,

‘God, be honest, are you really happy

with this bodge, this shoddy bricolage,

this job at best half-done?’ ‘What do you mean?’

God asked. ‘I need a mate,’ Man told him,

‘and I need one fast.’ God was flustered;

he’d run out of ideas already; so he replied,

‘If you’re so certain what you want,

tell me how to make it.’ Glancing about,

Man’s eye fell on a plump gourd hanging from a tree:

a calabash. ‘That will do,’ he said.

God nodded and set to work, adding

legs, arms and a head to the lovely roundness,

with other details that would make Woman a match

for the stick-and-mud figure who stood by, watching.

When he had finished, God rubbed his hands, delighted.

But Man was less sure, remembering the pure shape

that had first caught his fancy: both virginal and gravid,

suspended improbably from that scruffy tree.

‘Take it or leave it,’ God said. Man remained

undecided, and Woman, too, had her proliferating doubts.

 

 

 

©2015 Christopher Reid

 

 

Author Links

 

Christopher Reid at Poetry Archive

British Council: Literature on Christopher Reid

Christopher Reid at Faber

 

 

 

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