Annette Volfing – Decluttering


Where do I even start? I am a hoarder
of hate, a madwoman squeezed
between tottering piles,
a caver in my own home. That over there –
don’t touch – is every single thing
my sister-in-law ever said. And here
are the minutes from Faculty Board
the year I made Reader, not Professor.
As for when the seventeen million
voted to deport me – that generated
a fair amount of paperwork.
It may look a mess, but that’s because
I still go through it, every day.
Other things are a bit more remote –
under the bed, mixed in with the dust mites,
you’ll find transcripts of Mrs Ainscough
ticking me off, and of Vanessa who said
I’d never get a boyfriend. To be honest,
I haven’t looked at those for years,
but it’s good to know they are there.

Annette Volfing is Danish. She has lived in the UK since 1982 (and obtained British citizenship in 2017). She is an academic. She has published a chapbook (‘Ecliptic’) with Black Light Engine Room. Her poems have appeared in a number of magazines.

Annette Volfing – Persephone


Of course there are issues.

Not every one could hack it here –
though I suppose
most don’t have much choice.

In some ways, I don’t either,
though I’m not badly placed.

You certainly don’t want
to be right at the bottom, not here.

But I don’t get involved in that;
don’t have much to say
when those outside want to know
how the whole system hangs together –

But it’s the small things that cause friction:

‘I don’t know what to feed you any more.’

It’s true, I’ve come to prefer a bit more spice –
though it’s always lovely to see her,
and the big wide sky and the sea,
and to sleep in a single bed again, like a little girl.

But when the days draw in and all my bags
stand packed again, I have to remind myself
not to speak of ‘going home’.

She weeps quite enough as it is.

Annette Volfing is originally from Denmark, and is the Professor of Medieval German Studies, and a Fellow of Oriel College, at the University of Oxford.