Nancy Mattson

Her Family

She built a set of ancestors on wire
armatures, moulded them with plaster,
wet her hands, slapped the backs, bellies,
limbs of parents, children, all her kin;
smoked a fag and wished her tribe good night:

“Dry slowly, my people, do not crack or weep,
stay strong and harden in your sleep.”

When they were ripe she set to carving torsos,
muscles and faces, rasping skin. She blew off
flakes and dust, carted them to the foundry,
filled their hollows with liquid bronze.

Her family stands at Snape, far from the edge
of the marsh, where earth gives way to reeds.
They need no plinth; they occupy the land.

They do not mourn her accidental death
in fire. Cold bronze eyes are not designed
for grief. Hepworth’s family outlasts her.

Nancy Mattson moved from the Canadian prairies to London in 1990. Her third full- length collection, Finns and Amazons (Arrowhead, 2012) begins with poems about early 20 th century Russian women artists but moves to a search for her Finnish great- aunt who disappeared in Stalinist Russia. She co-organises Poetry in the Crypt in Islington, north London. See http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/nancymattsonpage.shtml

Nancy Mattson moved from the Canadian prairies to London in 1990. Her third full-
length collection, Finns and Amazons (Arrowhead, 2012) begins with poems about early 20 th century Russian women artists but moves to a search for her Finnish great-aunt who disappeared in Stalinist Russia. She co-organises Poetry in the Crypt in Islington, north London.