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Review ~ Paul Chambers

This Single Thread
Paul Chambers

£10 available from the author and Alba Publishing 

things I have witnessed/ but failed to notice until/ this moment, here, now


I have seen them in the orchard’s long grass – contour, flight, down – from magpies or wood pigeons, and once, the tawny remains of a buzzard. I have slipped them in my pocket or frozen them in a photograph. But now I am watching them move in my memory as dusk begins to shift towards night:

evening wind
a feather trembles
in the grass 
(p.11)

And on those late train journeys home from London, lights from the back windows of terraced houses glittering past, wafers of smoky clouds shifting across the night sky: 

overnight train
a handprint
smears the moon
(p.68)

Paul Chambers talks about haiku as ‘the art of noticing’ and each haiku in this collection is a quiet and precise record of the small moments that are common to us all. Or, if not common, convincingly true:  

pylon hum
the twitch of fibres
in a horse’s shoulder
(p.27)

Our lives are, naturally, a tangle of threads. We are all pulled in multiple directions: work and family, obligations and responsibilities. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by complications, contradictions and challenges. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a level terrain, one that makes sense, provides a plateau of calm. But moments of smooth connection do exist; moments when we feel the beauty of travelling along a single harmonious thread. This collection reminds me of that. Reminds me too, to quote another poet:

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

(William Wordsworth, from ‘Leisure’.)

My life is richer for Paul Chambers noticing:

white mist
the wing and the wave
almost touching
(p.90)

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