Earth Sings the Touch of Time – Christopher North

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2001 Crabbe Memorial Competition – Second Prize
Adjudicator: Anne Beresford

The hand is raised.
Clay and water dribble down the fingers
Settling darkly beneath the broken nails.
Her hand. My hand. Your hand.

Fingers touch across the gap
But leaves no matching lines.
Prints dry though the ambitions wither.
Languages may die but the sensation remains
Of mud, pliable mother, in the palm of the folding skin.
Her hand. My hand. Your hand.

Many times mud has healed.
It has primed the initiation, pained wildly on tight-eyed
Youth, soon to be older and stronger than fear.
Mud has sealed the boundaries of the home,
Jacketing the sticks, covering like a lover’s blanket.
Tender fingers have bound this wattle,
Cupping palms wield this mud,
Heads jerk and eyes will smart and cry some more,
But the cold-pressed comfort stays constant.
Her hand. My hand. Your hand.

Paw prints stiffen upon the sun-dried brick,
Feet press within the rammed
Earth, adobe, pisé, cob.
The labels may differ,
But the satisfaction lives on through
Her hand, my hand, your hand.

Copyright © Christopher North 2001

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