2017 Crabbe Poetry Competition – Second Prize
Adjudicator: Esther Morgan
Woken by a screaming owl, or perhaps
a distant housebound human howl,
you let the slithering memory of it
linger inside this dense curtained space
where the lineaments of a bedroom
dissolve into blunt unseen things.
The crime thriller you finished last night
supplied its load of dead women
and a plot that kept twisting
like the murderer’s hot gloved hands
and the husband’s not the man she thought,
the close friend’s terrible duplicity, then, at last
the consolation of a complete explanation,
chaos sorted out, justice on top. Closure.
And after that you put out the light,
lay down beside your cold love,
fell into a sleep deep as a well
until that cry woke you in the darkness.
The bed is empty as that café where yesterday you sat
chewing tasteless lemon cake, shaking, telling
your best friend your strange incredible fear
while on the wall above, popping and sizzling,
the blue electrocutor one by one
converted black flies to blacker waste.
A noise downstairs as of a closing door.
Tomorrow seems as thin as airmail paper,
a blue you can almost see through.
It will be a while before you can sleep again
and then dare to turn and touch
whatever it is you are waking up to.