Crabbe Memorial Competition 2015 – First Prize
Adjudicator: Robert Seatter
Her transparency; the clear breath
that ran through her; her nose –
the tidy fold of it, like paper; her innocence:
here was a woman who knew nothing
of ripe figs dripping juice, nothing
of swaybacked donkeys and Herodotus.
Not that she was stupid: she’d grown herself
from her own seeds, like a child raising
mustard and cress on blotting paper.
Like him, she’d been given nothing
and had made something of it.
He liked her will: she’d not buckle
or bend. And he loved the centre of her voice:
sherbet in the lemon. Her eyes, too: bluesky
blue, limpid with chalky loss, a foil
for his, the colour of peat. Most of all
he loved her fastidious ways and words.
Those harridans in black habits had tied her
up in a parcel of plain brown paper
and string he wanted slowly to undo.
Copyright © 2015 Caroline Gilfillan