Shelling Broad Beans – Phil Rösel Baker

George Crabbe Poetry Competition 2022 – 1st Prize
Adjudicator – Blake Morrison

Green canoes with pointed prows,
stern raked upwards,
bulging keels.

Vessels of plenty.

Serpentine pods, specked with red.
Pale green light, transfusing
through veined skin.

Emerald membrane, sleeping bag.

Swelling beans like bare limbs
contoured beneath a sheet.
Suspended animation,

cushioned in white amniotic velvet.

Break the pointed tip,
unzip the strings the full length
of the spine –

call them awake.

Slip the beans from their soft uterus,
leaving behind yellow filaments,
delicate afterbirth.

Soft-centre pebbles, newborn.

They know nothing
but do they sense the sudden
change in the light,

a shock of colder air?

A colander of
mangled bedclothes. Aftermath
of struggle.

Plundered.

Broken canoes
piled in a scrapyard, ripped,
abandoned

to decay.

A bowl of jade-green
slitted pearls, containing
next year’s spring.

Live protein booty.

Copyright © 2022 Philip Rösel Baker


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