By Cilla McQueen
'Crikey', a most enthralling poem by Cilla McQueen invites us to glimpse her unique experience of love. Her “words spin off” each line, creating an exciting, magical atmosphere of distractedness.
In the first stanza we can see and feel that her experience is positive and ecstatic, transforming her ordinary life into a fizzing world of intensity. Littered throughout this stanza, to deepen our understanding of her experience, are statements in which the reader feels as if they are being spoken to, or have stumbled upon an intimate conversation. McQueen refers to her lover saying “god your nice”; this first person pronoun leading us to believe that it is the reader she is talking to, giving us a new perspective on her experience: as if we are the ones who have caused her to be so alive and energetic.
To further our understanding, she has included a simile that allows us to glimpse at what her experience is like: she says she feels “like a morning”, which is something everyone has experienced and can relate to. Mornings are refreshing, a start to a new day; they are filled with bird song and beautiful red skies and though mornings do not last the day, they will come again. This poem has emphasised the beauty of the morning, taking an ordinary thing and turning it into something extraordinary. This is exactly what McQueen's experience of love was like: her world was changed into something magical.
The above simile is emphasised with another in the second stanza. She describes the image of her lover being in her “like a scent/all the roses... are opening up at once.” This is an extremely vivid image as most who read this will be familiar with the sweet smell of roses. Again, this is allowing us to experience being in love through ordinary things, just viewing them in an extraordinary way. The image also enables the reader to gain an abstract understanding of her love as, for her, it is sweet, blissful and lingering like the aroma of the roses.
“I'm in love with you”. McQueen declares to the world that she is in love through strategized line breaks which is the common method of free verse. This has enabled her to create a set beat, further emphasising her feelings, fleeting thoughts and fluttering heart. A litany of intimate statements follows, as amongst her ordinary thoughts spring images of “my hand/your eyes your/hand” leaving no doubt that her mind is otherwise occupied. To emphasise this distractedness, she has broken up sentences which describe ordinary, unexcitable, predictable household chorus. She repeats to herself “do the washing/dream on the doorstep/clean all the windows at high speed” clearly justifying that she would rather be spending her time “day dreaming on the doorstep” rather than doing what she is supposed to do. This gives the reader a strong indication that love in powerful at a woo those willing to fall in it.
The final image in the last stanza is a refreshing one about a “green caterpillar”. This image emphasises the build up/ high she gained from being in love, also referring back to the transformation her world had gone through, causing her to see things with new eyes and the image about mornings. Though she has now “let” herself “down/smoothly/from the very top/.../of the tree”, in the morning, a new day, she will experience love again.
The images portrayed throughout the free verse poem have allowed the reader to experience the many different sides to love: we have been the lover; we have heard the private, intimate conversation. We were spectators and players in the experience, waking refreshed in the mornings and smelling the sweet roses. As her poem and her experience of love did, we also were let “down/smoothly” from the magical, exciting feeling that is love.
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