Starlight on Water - Helena Nelson

Starlight on Water
£ 8.00

Helena Nelson’s first collection, Starlight on Water (Rialto, 2003) was joint winner of the Aldeburgh Jerwood Prize. It includes a sequence of poems about Mr and Mrs Philpott, the middle-aged couple who continue to inhabit various poems by this author.


I can see a thin, grey, old woman
behind my beautiful daughter
who is thousands of miles away
across much deep water

and my beautiful daughter is laughing—
she doesn’t see the old woman with nails like claws
but the old woman sees me
and smiles as she gnaws

at my beautiful daughter who doesn’t see
the old woman with curious grace
kiss her white throat,
unpeel her face

and my beautiful daughter grows very still,
thousands of miles, thousands of miles away,
and her tissued skin
fades into grey

and I see how the old woman hates
both me and my daughter
with hate thicker than blood
and stronger than water

and I call out in fear
to my beautiful daughter. Thin, grey and near
the old face shifts
and my daughter is here.

I am an old woman
and she is my daughter;
we are thousands of miles away
across much deep water.


Helena Nelson
(from Starlight on Water)