Jane Clarke poem is as quietly crafted as a product of the wood-carving trade she is abandoning. The poem comes from her collection, The River (Bloodaxe Books, £9.95), which won her the Listowel Writers’ Week Prize in 2014.


I didn’t take the walnut oil,

linseed oil,


the tins of wax

or my lathe and plane


when I closed

the workshop door.


I left the grip of poverty

on the bench


beside my mallet,

whittling knife


and fishtail chisel

with its shallow sweep.


I quit the craft

my father had carved into me


when I was pliable

as fiddleback grain,


left all at the threshold,

except for the scent of wood,


a different scent

for every tree.