Longlisted Poem 2011

Bethany McColl

Cranbrook School, Kent

Freedom from Complexity

A man once wrote that we are mad to live,
And out of context as that is –
I see his point.

This I scribbled in the corner of my head,
Hastily, with the rest of the odd things
And over and again I said and I said and I said
‘It’s simple enough’, I said.
And so I chose a day (though why today, I couldn’t say)

The day before it seemed
That my heart and my head went down like divers
To halt in the deep sea and live like pearls
Or drown, sticky with salt
And like a broken record say;
‘I couldn’t breathe there, anyway’

For months I’d ask you what it meant,
So over and again you said (and you said)
That it was a freedom from the ways we live,
Our complex days and what we did.

So we watched the sky, like the belly of heaven
Pour out the last of the flat rays,
And as the sunlight died around your face you turned to mine and said
‘If freedom’s what you want, you’re better off alive instead’.

Tomorrow I won’t remember this,
And if you ask me why my lungs look big
I’ll tell you these are not my blue lips or wet hair,
It wasn’t me that dove down there.
Maybe it is that I am mad to live,
But here I am
Alive and atomising in the burning air.
© Bethany McColl

Project Details

  • Date January 19, 2015
  • Tags 2011 Simplicity - Longlisted Poems