poetry pf header


home>poets>Margaret Speak

Margaret Speak - about Margaret      more poems

events listing


home button poets button features button

links button shop button about ppf button email ppf button




Joint 2nd Prize, Second Light Poetry Competition, 2006;

published in Mxlexia, No. 30.

The Photographer's Apprentice


I have been taught to measure and sift

the lightening powders. I love their names,

the burning power within, chlorate of potash,


sulphurate antimony, gunpowder, pyroxylin

and magnesium. They are poisonous, rank,

evil, are most dangerous to work, being fierce


and unpredictable when transformed into heat

or light that scorches. I burn crushed sugar

with potash or sprinkle magnesium powder


onto guncotton or grains of saltpetre.

Monsieur waves and I light the powders

but today I am distracted.


The studio is dark in winter light; the mirrors

gleam with slivers, scimitars of silver.

The woman undresses, my body swollen


by heat as she unpins her hair. It explodes

over her soft pale flesh. Monsieur is impatient,

shouts, Allez! So I strike the allumette,


return the woman’s smile, forget to remove

my hand as powder ignites and detonates

while the mirror disintegrates in a green shower.


Margaret Speak


    last update:


 Margaret Speak photo


"Derek Walcott: Selected Poems",
Edward Baugh;

"Glad of These Times",
Helen Dunmore

"Stitching the Dark", Carole Satyamurti

and in the shop ...
collection - "The Firefly Cage", Redbeck Press

© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet
site feedback welcome