Winners 2017

Sofia Al-Hussaini (Commended)

Maynard School, Exeter, Devon

The Millstone

She moved like chewing gum between teeth;
Twirling and flashing, folding and unfolding her bones as she danced;
Arched feet never touching the paving stones.
We bartered uneaten cake and dilapidated toys and our wives last season shoes
For copper coins to hurl into the beret at her feet,
So she could buy enough bread to sustain her perennial waltz.

Until the man with the loose-fitting face saw her dancing,
Six feet above the ground, and started to mutter about obstruction of private property,
And paid us two-pounds-fifty to anchor her with a millstone,
Which we bound to her neck with a collar of red tape, whilst she spat and hissed
Like fat on a fire; tears burning blisters into our arms.
No one used the word noose.

How could we have imagined
How quickly the silent streets would begin to resemble a crypt?
Or how heavy our jangling pockets would feel
As we watched her search for lucky fallen pennies and loose eyelashes?
Or how deep she would venture into the forest,
Where she sat so still that a fondant of lichen grew between her toes
So she could catch bunnies and snap off their feet,
And tear the shoes off white horses,
And crush the bones in birds’ necks,
To use as lucky charms?

Or that she would end up in the hollow of the Chapel,
Kneeling so that the church floor took the weight of the stone,
Praying that when she rose her arched feet would spurn the cumbersome Earth
And she would float upwards; biting the heads off sunflowers
And passing the static of starlight without slowing to make wishes;
Disappearing into the air like powdered sugar flung into a sandstorm.

Project Details

  • Date April 6, 2017
  • Tags 2017 Stone - Winning Poems