In her first collection since the Costa-winning Tilt, Jean Sprackland looks back at endings and beginnings: the end of a life, or of a marriage; old homes lived in and left, new homes discovered. There are poems that speak of the paralysis and bewilderment of knowing something is over, and of the strangely significant, almost votive nature of the things that are left behind: the biscuit tin 'of old keys, decommissioned and sleeping', the empty room fading 'to a tinnitus of dust and dead wasps'.
This is a book of transitions — domestic and emotional — and it explores how the experience of change is painful, disorientating, even catastrophic, but also profoundly necessary and revelatory. Change brings with it the hope that love can be recovered out of the ruins; change, in fact, is a creative, healing force that shows us we have been living among ruins — that even in the face of grief and loss there are 'spectral futures / we must stride the ditch to reach'.
Full of exact, vivid, clear-eyed observation of a world of failure and flux, Sleeping Keys also illuminates a future world beyond. For every object left emptied of significance, bereft, Jean Sprackland shows us another that is charged and radiant with possibility — the possibility of miracles.