Upon receiving the Convergence Divergence brief, I instantly knew I wanted to my screen based outcome – hopefully an animation – using spoken word or music to draw from. My father, Simon Crowcroft, has been writing poetry and plays throughout his life, and often takes inspirations from his own life experiences.
The below poem has always stuck with me, especially because the first time I heard the written story that it is based on was also the first time I or anyone else in my family had heard about the event before. The notion that this experience only lives on in these words and its author’s memory is a fascinating concept to me, as it brings a fictional dimension to the story of a father saving his daughter’s life.
The Moment After by Simon Crowcroft
The moment after I left my daughter
In the room beyond the landing, with toys
Sufficient for an hour, she learnt to crawl.
Steel glints in the stairwell’s dark gullet
as the baby reaches the banisters,
sits. Ah dah, she says, then a backwards flip
Propels her through the rails. Her arms stretch out,
An old reflex wraps young fingers round bars;
She hangs there as gravity, twelve feet down
Grips her small feet –gives her a full minute.
So seconds pass and millions of years
Whiten her knuckles, and make her wail …
Normally I let her cry for a while,
‘For godsake, leave her!’ I call as her mum
goes to check the cot for the umpteenth time,
but the hairs rise on the back of my neck,
a drum beats in the dark whorl of my ear,
a hammer falls on its brittle anvil –
her crying stops, she’s tired, she’s about to let go –
I push back my chair, sweep into the room,
as if I had wings or swung between trees,
a darting eye, a look-out’s gaze, two small fists
glimpsed like the ears of prey or predator
in grasses far below. It was not me
who rescued her, but all her ancestors,
whose countless arms reached down to grab her wrists,
whose generations sigh now with relief.
You can check out more of my father’s work here.