Sophie Fenella is a poet and performer from London. She has showcased her work around the UK at venues such as The Roundhouse, The Royal Festival Hall and has previously been long-listed to be the Young Poet Laureate for London. Her poetry has been published in numerous websites, anthologies and magazines including The Rialto, Magma and New River Press.
The Rich Nothing sees Sophie Fenella create a time capsule of loss, love and grief all transported and transmogrified into powerful snapshots which are often arresting, sometimes surreal, but always pertinent and provocatively fresh.
The Rich Nothing by Sophie Fenella
Poetry pamphlet – 33 page
Taken from The Rich Nothing…
Almost eaten, my mother’s hand
- tight-spun fist - knocks the table
as she whispers, he’s here
with closed eyes and mouth
chewing baked potatoes, drowning
in butter, melting cheese.
Mother is speaking to the dead.
Oh Mother, what did you do
to make this knocking sound?
Knock to keep the absent,
knock to break the door,
knock to stop the crockery
smashing on the floor.
Knock to lighten the granite air
warm the house where ghosts walk,
swallow silence, after I leave.
Break the silence Mother,
with psychic knock.
The knock of the dead,
the damn knock of the dead,
is the reason my mother
worries the lonely wall,
when the kitchen table
is a great big apology
and we sit chewing carbs.
There is no reason why
my mother knocks rustic tables
like a priest in myths
or deeper stories than this.
But there is an explanation why
I feel my witch blood boil
with the sound of the knocking dead;
knocking is my way
of apologising to my father
who would hate the fact that
he only breathes in my dreams.
The most important moment
of grieving is the bit when
the ghost becomes personable.
My mother watched the ghost walk
through the kitchen, as arguments
widened her eyes, and for the first time
I saw her as a child
brushing soft palms
on my five year old brow.
Neither of us could explain why
the hallway rocked when the ghost
turned up in the kitchen
with his hairy arms, orchestral laugh,
and meditative smile,
which looked like my father
except faded, his colour
running out, the soft crease
of his smile the last potion
in our twisted spell.
I don’t like eating in the morning when waiting for emails
hoping for a sign that tunnels aren’t endless mornings
are welcome but when I am sandwiched between heavy metal
back beat tissues and red rimmed eyes ignoring
the littered train smudging peripheral vision and its reminder
of today I think about all the food that has been eaten on trains
in between conversations about the city and its history
(water pumps war) and remark on how well the air
is dealing with labour smelling toothpaste to keep me awake
I could be unconscious I could be swimming with Beyoncé
on an island made entirely of the dinners I have forgotten
to eat and the nights spent making arrangements with the ceiling
to keep me stable to keep me from falling into a half asleep
mess with my forehead pressed on the window
unable to relate to the train that doesn’t notice the warehouse
screaming or the factories pouring smoke
on the cotton sky like a drunk father spilling beer on his shirt
I have a fist full of hard and the girl next to me is eating
a boiled egg yellow mouth she clenches her teeth
her eyes glaze she is naked from the waist down
I’m not supposed to speak to strangers but I see words
on her dew pink bottom lip she doesn’t know how to come
to the dinner table we both sit in silence
and understand the cold stick of a bathroom floor and red sky
kisses blue and I hold her hand