The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1974 Crabbe Memorial Competition – Joint First Prize
Adjudicators: Jeni Couzyn, Christopher Hampton, Robert Dumper
BRONZE OF A BLACK GIRL
The Royal Academy, London, England
God, how it tore the heart out of me
When I saw it first, in the Academy,
The meagre child standing, empty
Bowl in outstretched hands.
The bronze extended the belly-ache
Of hunger to the gallery, yet I could not make
A poem of it. Perhaps the plenty
Of my home was like the brand
Of Cain on me, my answering was dumb.
Now after years the cry of the bronze comes
Back, The child the sculptor saw
May, if she lived, have grown
To suckle other knuckled children
At her dry breast. No wholesome oaten
Loaf came from me. She gnaws
On a pebble, hoping to reap from seeds unsown.
Copyright © Marguerite Wood 1974