Longlisted Poem 2014

Harriet Rose

St Swithun’s, Winchester


We lapse like every accident has lapsed –
To bowing heads in countless waiting rooms,
In places where a thousand more have sat.
And fled with love or laid their love to rest.
Clutching prayers to bargain with some grantor.
We offer up our keening souls to Thee;
‘Pass over us and strike some stranger down.’
But helpless I can only wait for news.
While some unknown turns ancient eyes to us,
Preparing years of grief on which to rise,
and settle there amid the sunless days –
Adjusting plumes of loss like bridal skirts.
And holding hearts like flowers in its teeth.

Oh God, don’t break Your bread for her just yet –
I’ll wage Your wars, I’ll lie down with the lambs.
I’ll keep the lions warm and wait for Thee.
Deliver her, I’ll spill Your Word like wine.
God, don’t let this thick and gasping love be
Like pools of water running through Your hand.
I’ll breathe the breathless I love you.  I love.
With Waiting’s fist clenched round my ribs before
I get too brave.  And still the time stalks on.
And weak with faith, I wet my lips with prayer,
And picture her with drunk indulgent hope.
And hold my arms around that image here.

While next to me two men make idle chat.
The television blares boldly on
And everything I have stands on the edge.
I kneel before the avalanche and try
To catch Your eye.  Here, the final moment?
And there – a clutch of light and noise and haste –
A beating stops like some intake of breath
A doctor far away shouts helplessly.
And in the blink of some roaring unknown
The whole world bows its head and starts to pray.
‘My God, if we lose her, You’ve lost us all.’
© Harriet Rose

Project Details

  • Date February 10, 2015
  • Tags 2014 News - Longlisted Poems