Polly Walshe

Small Talk

As another year turns you realise you could
Fill a party with the dead:
Those you knew well, or half knew
Or used to recognise. You could

Offer them drinks, ask how they are,
Step back and watch them mix. Death
Has been kind to them, you’ll think,
Its chalky angled light shows what they are,

Lends them an innocence, casts
Their features in such sharp relief
They seem to be like angels –
How you’d guess angels are – a cast

Of being light but heavy, real
As only the most urgent prayer.
And they’re already over it,
You’ll overhear, the idea life was real

Instead of the pulsating vacancy
They knew before. Wonderful, they’ll say,
How it came back to them,
Like swimming without motion, a vacancy

One can’t really convey, or flying
Through bubbling blue hyperspace
As time flows down the hill and far away.
It’s so hard to explain. Just say like flying.

Polly Walshe was born in London and currently lives in Oxford. Her poems have recently been published in The Spectator, The Frogmore Papers, Snakeskin and in the Ver Poets prizewinners’ anthology (2020).