London Grip Poetry Review – Annie Fisher


Poetry review – MISSING THE MAN NEXT DOOR: Kelly Davis finds that Annie Fisher has a light touch even when dealing with serious subjects


Missing the Man Next Door
Annie Fisher, 
Mariscat Press, 2024, 
ISBN 978-1-8384509-9-1, 

‘Tell all the truth but tell it slant’. Emily Dickinson’s famous line seems to run through this wonderful new poetry collection by Annie Fisher. We get to know the man next door through the traces he’s left behind: the echo of his ‘Brian-Blessed voice’, the Sibelius he used to play at top volume, the ping of his stick on the metal gate post, the house ‘in a state of shock’, the single dangling bulb that still illuminates his room.

The benevolent ghost of her 94-year-old neighbour, who died during the pandemic, haunts the author and encourages her to explore other precious memories, like her dead mother’s feet, clad in party socks for their final journey. These child-size feet supported her mother’s body while she bore six children. But just as we start to succumb to the pathos, Fisher mischievously imagines those same feet peeping out from under her mother’s nightdress like ‘small white rabbits / planning their escape’.

There are many other memorable human characters in these pages: lonely priests, a wicked parson, an unlikely muse called Maureen, a woman whose long-lost husband wants to return to her – at the age of 83. There are also some significant encounters with nature: an old beech tree that ‘knows the living always have / unfinished business with the dead’; an early meeting with a mountain lion; wise advice from a worm; dandelion clocks that have

shrugged off every bit of bling 
for one last chance to shine as something
silvery, refined, if only for a few
short hours, till time’s breath
blows all vanities away. 

This collection deals with death, loss, grief and other serious subjects but always with humour and a light touch. Lying in the garden, reading R.S. Thomas’ Late Collected, Annie Fisher ends up clasping the book to her cheek and dancing with it across the lawn; and the last poem shows her skipping and waltzing through the streets of Bridgwater, her hometown. These are, above all, poems to be relished and enjoyed.

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