Jude Goodwin, Canadian Poet

Jude Goodwin

She uses the personal to translate the universal.

At the art gallery, a woman

At the art gallery, a woman

At the art gallery, a woman by Jude Goodwin

    Dark things come out of me, she said
    and opened her mouth
    right there, next to the lemon poppyseed
    muffins and chai teas,
    parted her thin ribbed lips
    and showed me her throat.
    It was full of something
    coiled. Leaning close to my face,
    she rolled her eyes. Her laughter
    rose between us on small black wings
    leaving a dampness on my cheek.
    Later, across the gallery
    I saw her passing pamphlets
    and brochures to visitors. Nothing dark
    apparently, but high above in the rafters
    there might have been movement.
    She saw me watching
    and winked.


This poem is another masterly chiller, perhaps more explicit than Walter de la Mare would have allowed himself to be in its shock effects. "Her laughter / rose between us on small black wings / leaving a dampness on my cheek" is a sure and swift development of the action, engaging at least three senses. This alarming moment is equally surely back-pedalled as the poem settles: "nothing dark / apparently, but high above in the rafters / there might have been movement."

Peter Bennet, January 2008
The Guardian Poetry Workshop Shortlist

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