Enitharmon Press, 2004
ISBN 904634 04 4
The opening poems in this collection respond to illness and its treatment and they are followed by poems which explore transience. The main theme of Voicebox, the long fictional narrative in the middle of the book is communication. It follows the connections and disconnections between the main characters.
In a short poem sequence, the poet draws on findings in the 1901 to recreate her father’s early life, and the understanding she gains helps her to feel a new closeness with him. The poems are united by the theme of investigations of the self and its relationship with the outside world.
Multiplying the Moon
No opening in the house is shut
but the heat’s a cage I have to bear.
By the back door where I burnt
my soles this afternoon I long for air
cool as a fish’s belly to creep out
of Pymmes Brook up the park slope
to my fence, press the milky smell
of midnight blades to my face. Not
a ruffle, not even the owl
calling like an obsessive ghost
from clots of trees. Upstairs the curtains
are undrawn and I watch my self in a mist
of cotton nightdress that hides scars,
uneven troughs, veins which discolour
skin, with spidery purple tributaries.
And there are my other selves, stars
for eyes, leaning towards the windows:
the one with drive who hoards hope,
the limp moaner, the sympathetic self
and she whose glinting thoughts leap
from the dark of her riverbed. None
of these can lower the temperature,
slow or speed up time, shrink hatreds
fostered for centuries, feed rain
to thirsty fields, muzzle the snout
of danger or make safe the small
creature always crouched at my core.
Powerless then, have I no power at all?
Pushing a pane to its limit, I catch
the moon. Across the window bay
a second jumps whitely into
the blue of night. In the glass I hatch
another and another, bat them from frame
to frame, create a skyful of moons,
ring myself with silver clarity. Cool
begins to whisker the rim of the room.
“Multiplying the Moon confirms Myra Schneider as an important poet: compassionate, richly sensuous, and with a tactfully impressive delicacy of technique…Flower, fruit, butterflies and brightly-glazed ceramics – amongst many other alluring images…build up subtly, a gently symbolic network which communicates thoroughly human meanings: meanings above all, of hope, endurance and compassion.”
Grevel Lindop, in The London Magazine.
“The underworld theme runs like a darkly glittering threat throughout the book. This becomes overt in a long narrative poem Orpheus in the Underworld; but it’s implied themes of ageing, illness, disability, exclusion, loss, the past and its ghosts…but finds a redemptive value there through human love. Like the mythical Orpheus, Myra Schneider is a singer and a survivor.”
Hilary Llewellyn-Williams, in Artemispoetry.