Winners 2004

Caroline Bird (Commended)

Lady Eleanor Holles School, Middlesex

The Softness of the Morning

If the breeze through the trees were a tongue
it couldn’t say a word. My bottom lip grew so long,
it wrapped around the rivers
and the wandering silent pilgrims set up picnics
in the curve of my mouth, each with a story to tell
of a journey that was never done.

In the softness of the morning, I entered the forest,
following my lip for the source of this taste,
I rode on a donkey that had once been a beautiful princess,
kept the heart of a nightingale inside my nostril
and gained a new gold tooth with every sniffle,
drank water from the holy spring, I washed my feet in quick sand,
and still my bottom lip stretched over mountains,
soundless and sore. I danced with sexless shadows,
phantoms with faces like soft holes
singing down my throat like the sighing
of a thousand ugly damsels trapped in turrets.
I shaved my eyebrows with a sharpened stick,
painted on a look of sudden surprise,
carved the deepest part of the ocean, crammed an oak into an acorn,
stitched my eyes with feathers, robbed a church,
picked a flower that could live without sun,
made love to a dwarf who nudged into my body
like a boat attempting to moor on my chest.
I filled my stomach with baby wolves,
sailed on a dew drop through acres of oil, bathed in perfume
until even my shit tempted mermaids,
found religion beneath a fallen log, stopped for a beer,
kicked August from the calendar,
stole a moment of joy from the breath of a swan,
injected moonshine into my ears, listened to butterflies swearing,
sat on a rock made of time, stuffed a glow-worm in my windpipe,
electrified the air. And still had nothing to say.

Just before lunch, I crawled back to the house,
planning to tell you with my hands instead,
make the sign of leaving, make the sign of regret,
make the sign of reasons not to stay,
but the gravel path had a saddening crunch,
the face by the window, a running tear.
You opened the door, my lip sprang out,
slapped me and said something wrong.

Project Details

  • Date January 24, 2015
  • Tags 2004 Early Morning - Winning Poems