The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1973 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Perhaps something in the mud will
Preserve the wheel,
So that, centuries on, after The Fall,
When this flapping wind is whining still,
Some creature will find it here
By the reeds and the dark river
The wide bright sky
And the shivering skin of the water.
Powerful, thick and numb
He will know this wet clay.
His wild flying eyes will swarm
With these crying birds
Swooping like blades
Over stone water which hides
Fish that are muscle and arrow-heads.
The old wheel sinks in the brown, oozing flats,
Circled by delicate prints; shallow,
Tribal and twig-like
Heavy, wet cloud
Scrambling to threatening heights
Lays its darker shadow
On the water’s sharp back
And on the bristling mud.
Curlews take to the air
Piping the alarm
And wild grasses stoop, not from fear,
But as though praising the storm
Which drives me home
Away from the sucking marsh
Rising over the rim
And buffeting my pricked flesh.
Copyright © Colin Fletcher 1973