“Be consumed. Lost and in perfect control.” Diana Hendry’s advice to a piano-player captures well the sense conveyed by her poems, intense lightings-up of very accurately-seen emotional and imaginative states, but always with important larger questions waiting behind them. These are accessible, highly intelligent, wide-ranging poems that have a wonderful psychological truthfulness, particularly about relations between mother and daughter, but then go beyond the individual situation to become a meditation on meaning in the face of mortality. As she says in another poem: “What to do with the smallness of my life/ is such an enormous question.”
The Watching Stair is a wonderfully apt title for this collection. Like the narrator of the title poem, Diana Hendry is ‘intensely good’ at both ‘watching and listening’. The result is a collection of poignant, often wryly humorous and always beautifully-crafted poems that open windows on childhood and old-age.