Lucy Tunstall’s poems leaped out at us from the slush pile for their fresh, unfussy takes on
the vagaries of contemporary life; she is one of those poets whose voice already seems
familiar. “Remembering the Children of First Marriages” invokes the structured repetition
and close observation that make Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno” (“For I will consider
my Cat Jeoffrey”) so extraordinary; here, Tunstall, a British poet, turns her gaze not to a
winsome cat, but to children of divorce, as if they, too, could be held up to the light and
anatomized. An irony, of course, is that there is nothing singular about children of divorce.
REMEMBERING THE CHILDREN OF FIRST MARRIAGES
Oh remember the children of first marriages
For they are silent and awkward in their comings and their goings;
For the seal of the misbegotten is upon them;
For they walk in apology and dis-ease;
For their star is sunk;
For their fathers’ brows are knitted against them;
For they bristle and snarl.
All you light-limbed amblers in the sun,
Remember the grovellers in the dark;
The scene-shifters, the biders, the loners.
Lucy Tunstall is a doctoral student at the University of Exeter.