The recurrent themes of Little Silver are inheritance, loss, and the relationship between real and imagined lives. Moments of crisis – a near-drowning, a fall down a mine-shaft, the death of a friend – prompt reflection on the stories ‘we tell ourselves about our / selves’, and on the sheer strangeness of existing in our bodies and in time.
The book’s title sequence responds to the recent demolition of Jane Griffiths’ childhood home, whose absence appears as ‘a little silvering between the trees’. Setting its absence against the memory of ‘Little Silver’, a small enclave of houses in Exeter that she passed on the way home from school (and whose name fascinated her), she considers the gap between the two as the space of the imagination: the origins of her writing.
Other poems centre on the theme of childlessness and the relationship between that and other kinds of making; a sequence centred on conversations between an artist and her imaginary children concludes when the daughter asks ‘So if we existed the tree could stand alone?’ The emphasis in these poems is on inventiveness and endeavour, on lifelines and human traces.