Gaia Holmes was born and bred in Halifax. She is the author of two poetry collections: Dr James Graham’s Celestial Bed and Lifting The Piano With One Hand, both published by Comma Press.
From the lore and lexis of motorway travel, a subtext emerges – by turns surreal, sensuous, apocalyptic and transcendent. Service stations, Travelodge bedrooms and Shropshire B-roads acquire significant new auras in the hands of this hyper-talented duo. As a metaphor for twenty-first century transience, these poems speak not only to each other but to us all.
This cohesive collection manages to leaven the anonymity of Britain’s “beautiful and strange” motorway system with the deft touch of those who have inhabited and been affected by these superficially nondescript settings. The deeply felt work leaves its impression in its strength of imagery. “We are all nameless travellers on the edge of leaving.”
In Transit M62, Birch Services
How heavily they lift their paper coffee cups. How heavily they sigh and plough spilt sugar off the table with the sides of their hands. How heavily, like arthritic camels, they turn away from each other, pretend to study the barista bashing coffee grounds into the stainless steel bin, observe the man walking his dog between the service-station trees, stare at rain or a moon that isn’t there.
How hungrily they gobble down these distractions, this transient space where women, wet-necked with perfume, and men, carrying neat bunches of forecourt flowers, prepare to drive home.
How tenaciously they cling to the in-between, wanting to stuff their mouths and their pockets full of it, wanting to soften their worlds with it, because when they have walked the distance from café to car, when they have shut the doors, sealed themselves into the miles, there will be static, there will be him and her focussing on the rear-view mirror, watching other people driving home to warm houses that smell of bread and oregano, where red wine breathes on the kitchen table and touch is not a shock. There will be him and her craving the glow of those better lives as they go back to the cold things they cannot talk about, the clean, unloved rooms they sit apart in, the draughts and silences they breed, the brittle cheese and boiled potatoes frosting in a fridge that always ices over.