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Poem of the Week: 'Lap' by Michael Laskey


The children first, half a dozen

revved up to arrive at the seaside

surge around where we sit on the pebbles.


In their wake the grown-ups with the gear,

giving us space, set up camp

not too near and gather them in,


all but one, a small boy, maybe three,

who stands between us and the sea

that holds him so long and so still


when at last he turns round and finds

us behind him, we won't forget 

that all at sea look on his face,


the relief when he clocks his mistake

and scampers off back to his own

mum, settles himself in her lap.


In this short lyric, Michael Laskey has captured a moment of immersion the child experienced with the sea, also an embarrassing moment of mutual discovery when the little spectator realises he is being gazed upon. Many poems in Weighing the Present are about such omnipresent, subtle, everyday interactions, though they take various forms: sometimes a monologue of comic self-mockery, sometimes the deliberate veering-away from a muntjac carcass by the road, sometimes the passing-by of a girl with a violin on her back...Behind Laskey's poems written with a light touch and plain diction is a traceless virtuosity and an unswerving intellect, poking fun at the often callous and contradictory sides of human nature and always fascinated by its intricate knots and ties.



Michael Laskey has published four collections of poetry, and has been shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. Weighing the Present is published by Smith Doorstop, and is available to purchase on our website here.

By Eiffel Gao

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