The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2011 Crabbe Memorial Competition – Third Prize

Adjudicator: Elaine Feinstein

‘If anything happens to me
papers and books will cover every surface:
every table, cabinet, chair – even the floor.
You put things down anywhere
instead of putting them in their proper place.’
I laughed, ‘I love you too,’ I said.

But it is true. Every morning I pick things up
fom the coffee table, the audio cabinet
the long, low table under the window, the sofa,
even your beloved mid-Victorian hall chair,
but never the floor, that’s clear.
I occasionally vacuum that.
Everything is pretty tidy though and fairly clean,
but don’t I beg you, haunt my study.
Even though I love you still.

On the dining table, where I clear a corner
to eat my home-cooked farragos,
there I admit defeat. As one pile disappears
another replaces it. There still are the letters
of condolence I’ve just read
and am acknowledging, slowly, but not steadily.
In my convoluted thoughts, nothing
is straightforward.
Except that I love you still.

Everything is fine otherwise.
The beds are changed regularly;
the lawn gets mowed now and then.
There are no newspapers lying around.
I don’t read them any more.
The real news stopped
when you stopped talking to me.

Surfaces rule our lives. Maybe,
as someone is supposed to have said,
‘Deep down I’m a superficial person.’
I wish our surfaces could touch again.
They never will, but I love you still.

Copyright © Frank Wood 2011

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