The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2019 Crabbe Memorial Competition – Third Prize
Adjudicator: Tiffany Atkinson

I was sitting on the bank when I felt
my grief roil inside me. Gulping against
the upward surge, still trying to contain
it, I found I could no longer. A huge
sob juddered open my mouth, out of which
emerged a fish, head first, its eye greeting
mine as it slid to the mud at my feet
and then, flipping and twitching in frantic
motion, thrashed into the river and was
borne on the current, a silver lightning.

The heft of my grief pushed out a second
fish, then urgently a small shoal, until
the writhing pile lashed at my feet, scales loose
and spangling. I reckoned the eyes of each
and they mine before, in turn, they launched them­-
selves into the quickening riverwater,
the rushing sound of which grew louder. All
the words I hadn’t spoken shone as scales,
and the tears I’d never wept yearned to meet
the water and contribute to its depth.

Copyright © 2019 Jane Henderson

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