Heather Trickey, author of Sorry About the Mess, died on 21 July, 2021, aged 50. It feels like yesterday.
It's customary for publishers to put out a notice of regret, some words of praise, when one of their poets dies. It is so hard to do, in this case. Heather had become a friend, and obituaries make death real.
Heather loved being alive. She lived with fierce intensity, whether she was crying, raging, howling with laughter, or splashing in the freezing waves off the Welsh coast. She had a gift for friendship, and for making people smile in dark times. As she slipped further and further into illness, her friends, new and old, drew closer. She gently placed her 'lovely shattered friends' into poems. 'Tell me about your heart,' she said to them as she danced down 'the long red carpet of the hall'.
Those phrases are her own, of course. They are drawn from Sorry About the Mess, just a little book, but it's alive, and it will last.
When a poem works, that's one of the magic things it does: it creates a tiny flicker of life. A bit of the poet is alive inside it for as long as the text is read, like the filament inside an old-fashioned light bulb.
One of Heather's favourites was the ancient song 'Westron Wynde', a poem that's alive if ever one was. She loved 'the smalle rayne downe can rayne'. She loved the yearning in that poem, the aching loss.
And now Heather Trickey herself is lost. Heather who adored her family with every fibre of her being; who cherished her friends dearly; who loved language, and the traditions of poetry, with every last scrap of her keen intelligence. It was vital to her to articulate the truth with precision and care, whatever it cost.
And here she is still, illuminating her own lines.
After I leaked hot tears onto the radiotherapy bed
and the nurse said she would have liked to give me a hug
but couldn't, I swung by our local patch of water.
This is the Channel. And I am the Pobble,
recklessly dabbling my toes
having already removed my paper mask.
A friend once sat hereabouts and sang a song to the Severn.
Brown/blue, two things can be true. Right now it looks
like sparkling shit. This poem is not about Pobbles
and it will not win prizes.