The cover of Annie Fisher’s new Happenstance chapbook shows someone jumping for joy, and that’s more or less how you feel after reading it.
Many of the poems are anecdotes – the story of the girl who ran the sack race, but misunderstood the instructions and put the sack over her head:
Has she forgotten that hot afternoon?
The scratch and smell of a hessian sack,
speckled sunlight through rough rope weave,
surging voices, burning breath, the unseen crowd,
and a skinny brown-limbed girl
(must be a woman now)
all alone and leaping in the dark.
The way the poem leads unassumingly up to that last line, and springs into poetry, is Annie Fisher at her best.
There is fun here (such as a poem about the pleasures of the word ‘Bollard’) and there is happy observation, like the ducks, ‘a procession of little brown nuns/ trailing veils of rippled water’. Some poems touch on serious themes. ‘Eleven’ says most of what needs to be said about the grimness of test-dominated education:
The test glared, strict as a smack.
The classroom smelt of rain-soaked macs.
Annie Fisher likes people, from odd Sister Hildegarde (‘a charcoal stick/ with a pink mouse-face) to the Reverend Clarence Rigby, who in a succession of reincarnations, loses more and more of his faith.
This is not a poetry collection that will change the world, but it is one that will remind you that the world is there to be enjoyed, as in ‘Song Thrush: May Morning’:
Bird at my window, early, early.
Something to say, to say, to say:
This morning won’t come again, again,
Make the most of today, today.