Review: A.F.Harrold’s The Point of Inconvenience reviewed in South 48

The Point of Inconvenience maps the decline and death of Ashley Harrold’s late mother. There is pathos and dignity in his writing. The poems are deeply felt, often lyrical, but there is also whimsy and particularly humour to be found in his descriptions of everyday life as a carer. Here he is after a visit to his mother when music for her funeral had been discussed:

message flew between our phones,
I read it, laughed, was proud of how
ten minutes with the radio
had thrown up Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

(Come Hear The Band)

Harrold does not flinch from exploring his own thoughts and the taboos
that surround terminal illness :

You sleep in the middle of the day.
The sun might as well be the moon.
I anticipate you waking again,
the muggy swell of nausea, of living beyond
your means,
and I look at the pillow, that simple snuffer.

(Pillow)

His mother’s illness leaves Harrold looking after her dog and home. Her
garden echoes her decline :

Colour fades as leafy things spring up.
The human patterns grow rare…
…The pond evaporates,
a damp ring-mark on stones, a daily sinking.

(Summer Neglect)

In this collection, fifty-three poems trace the decline and death of Harrold’s mother. The final long poem marks the despair and anguish he must now endure… and life without her. Brilliantly, through the use of dozens of euphemisms, Harold exposes our inability, linguistically, to come to terms with
death :

…She’s passed away, gone out the room,
drawn the curtains…
She’s snuffed it, clocked off, left the
building…
She’s flown out of the high window of the
old meadhall,
out into the unknowable night from whence
she came.
Your mum is dead, get over it.

(Get Over It)

This review, by Patrick B. Osada, appears in South 48.