Winners 2008

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Amelia Penny (Commended)

South Hampstead High School, London


There had been too many nights between warm walls for us,
Too much. The desiccated hollows of the house
Had lain like the sockets of dead joints for long enough,
Had held us, stuck like coins between old floorboards
As the cold was lying softly in the lees of leaf stacks,
And the sky was a scum skinning over the waters
Of gutters and drains.

And there came the day when the sycamore seedlings
Pushed their red roots from the workings of their wings
Into the rubble, and sniped
For the forests returning to England, lay
Like a swarm on the blank ground
When the sky was Roman glass above
The trees whose leaves hung rotting.

So we had to move, to break
The crust on the eyes of things, sick
Of watching the grey mornings stare
Through windows mapped in rain
Held desperately in frames, and swollen shut –

We forced them. Tugged and barged
And came out gasping as the panes began
To shift and snap.
Broke outwards. Burst. Like drowners
Cheating the sea, and choking, spitting
Gobbets of moth scales and mould
Gone ashy with age, over the hacked-down
Gardens whose wounds were newly seeping.

We woke the ladybirds which bled among the hinges,
Trickled out over the brass,
Carmine and gold, and left
The traces of their bitter, insect fear,
Yolk-yellow patches on the frost-peeled paint.
We breathed their bitterness, and felt it as we lay
Among them on the windowsills
And hung there,

Project Details

  • Date February 6, 2015
  • Tags 2008 Change - Winning Poems