Still Life – Rupert Mallin

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
1999 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicator: John Mole

I am the black line beside each vein,
Leisurely, luxurious, deep as an ocean,
Thinner than cotton.

I hang from horizons
behind breeze teased underwear,
Flat and fluttering upon the land.

Or curl up beside bones,
Orchestrating my growth to violins
Within the scaffolding.

I tighten the skin drum,
Lie thick in napkins,
Bleed all corners

Of simple symmetry. I am
Neither fillet nor feather,
Though I am that to which I cling.

Am a cavernous ghost
In a crevice, impossible to fill.
Emptiness if my fuel.

In the cold ash of ovens,
In a duct not a tear,
Too small for forensic.
Am beneath all, invisible,
Until lifted from the soil,
Like stories, like holes.

I hog fridges and kilns,
Make a home of a scream
And am the paint’s illusion.

I am essential.

Copyright © Rupert Mallin 1999

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