Moya Cannon


ISBN: 978 1 847771 42 1
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: November 2011
216 x 135 x 5 mm
64 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle), eBook (PDF)


for Eamonn and Kathleen


It was somewhere over the north-eastern coast of Brazil,
over Fortaleza, a city of which I know nothing,
except that it is full of people —
the life of each one a mystery
greater than the Amazon —
it was there, as the toy plane on the flight monitor
nudged over the equator
and veered east towards Marrakech,
that I started to think again of hands,
of how strange it is that our lives —
the life of the red-haired French girl to my left,
the life of the Argentinian boy to my right,
my life, and the lives of all the dozing passengers,
who are being carried fast in the dark
over the darkened Atlantic —
all of these lives are now being held
in the hands of the pilot,
in the consciousness of the pilot,
and I think of other hands which can hold our lives,
the hands of the surgeon
whom I will meet again when I return home,
the hands of the black-haired nurse
who unwound the birth-cord from my neck,
the soft hands of my mother,
the hands of those others
who have loved me,
until it seems almost
as though this is what a human life is:
to be passed from hand to hand,
to be borne up, improbably, over an ocean.

“In this new collection, Moya Cannon, through intent attention to light and sound and the natural materials that produce them, touches the very principle of life itself. Hands is a profoundly moving set of meditations on what it means to be alive, physically and emotionally.”

Bernard O’Donoghue

“‘give us moments so complete
there is nothing behind us or before —‘
Thanks to her eye and attention, Moya Cannon gives us such moments time and again.”

John Berger