Winners 2004

Helen Mort (Commended)

Brookfield Community School, Chesterfield


You creep up the hill before dawn,
bare feet pleading against wet grass,
the opening mouths of flats
laughing at your white nightdress,
all to watch the morning

George has had that dream again;
the one where the air-raid shelter
stuffs its prisoner-of-war mouth
with soil and he’s
trapped on the wrong side of the action.

The carcass of the train lies downwind,
firemen swarming like beetles
across its back.
At the next station on,
suited commuters mutter
about leaves on the line.

She lies next to him,
the space between them
as wide as the span of her hand
and unpacks his secrets
like Russian dolls.

Michael is restless
in a house he doesn’t know,
watching London inflate
like a damp balloon
behind the window,
wishing he could strike a match
against his sandpaper skull.

Brenda is scuffing her feet
at Charing Cross and
where she wants to go today –
her cleaning job or
Land’s End?

Yes, here are fingers like any others,
but scarred across their prints,
fiddling with wires; bright primary colours,
careful life-juggling.

On the 6 am news, the Minister
is asked again by a florid woman
if he is concerned
by their threat to target the Tube
and he says –

Project Details

  • Date January 9, 2015
  • Tags 2004 Early Morning - Winning Poems