Things He Loved – Caroline Gilfillan

Crabbe Memorial Competition 2015 – First Prize
Adjudicator: Robert Seatter

Her transparency; the clear breath
that ran through her; her nose –

the tidy fold of it, like paper; her innocence:
here was a woman who knew nothing

of ripe figs dripping juice, nothing
of sway­backed donkeys and Herodotus.

Not that she was stupid: she’d grown herself
from her own seeds, like a child raising

mustard and cress on blotting paper.
Like him, she’d been given nothing

and had made something of it.
He liked her will: she’d not buckle

or bend. And he loved the centre of her voice:
sherbet in the lemon. Her eyes, too: blue­sky

blue, limpid with chalky loss, a foil
for his, the colour of peat. Most of all

he loved her fastidious ways and words.
Those harridans in black habits had tied her

up in a parcel of plain brown paper
and string he wanted slowly to undo.

Copyright © 2015 Caroline Gilfillan

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