Bruce Barnes is a graduate of the Writing M.A at Sheffield Hallam University. His poetry collections include the lovelife of the absent minded (Phoenix Press 1993), Somewhere Else (Utistugu Press 2003) and Out of his struggles-the poems of Kosuke Shirasu (with Jun Shirasu) (Utistugu Press 2016). His writing has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, and he is a past winner of the Ilkley Literature Festival Poetry Prize, and the Torriano Poetry Prize. His website is http://www.brucebarnespoet.
In a poem sequence, that is part recollection and part travelogue, Bruce Barnes, the child of a Jewish father and Anglican mother, returns to Israel-Palestine 50 years later to uncover family history, and explore a contested land where the Bible stories are still writ large.
These poems offer a memory map of personal and family history, to remind us why our histories cannot be forgotten, no matter what efforts are made to erase the past.
A hand slips the mesh fence to pick a sprig;
their rosemary is ahead of ours,
darker, greener leaves, with centres
pale as skin, the bush about His height.
Again, that smell is ‘nothing more than matter’,
until something moves between the twisted,
suggestive olive trees. Don’t get me wrong,
it’s not Him, it could be anybody,
save for the mantra of wrong time, wrong place,
and that sudden ache below the thumb
and forefinger that must come from weeding.