2020 Crabbe Poetry Competition – 1st Prize
Adjudicator: Martin Figura

When nouns – proper and common –
began to go, she remembered
Giordano Bruno,
his memory theatres
by means of which an orator
might recall the propositions
of a speech, and place sentences
in key positions such as a pediment,
architrave or column within
an imagined theatre.

                                        She would use
her childhood home
which she could not shake off
and adorn it with entities
and situations
of greater fragility –

fireplace, kitchen sink, flagstones
in the larder; coal cellar,
woodshed, the kitchen
window where the cat
came in. The bookcase
on the upstairs landing –

she would tie what she wanted
to remember to these solid
locations as some tie prayers
and wishes to a tree, making the
fastening firm with a double bow.
There. The name of a long ago lover
tied to the mantelpiece, and there
the town in Sardinia where someone
– was it she? – fell over and grazed
her knee as a child might do
and the woman from the cake shop
ran out with a chair and a slice
of a tart made with apricots
ranged beautifully
like roof tiles.

Copyright © Elizabeth Cook 2020

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