Flambard Poetry Prize 2014 First Prize
Two poems by the first-prize winner of the 2014 Flambard Poetry Prize, Alice Allen:
Sometimes in a dream
Sometimes in a dream I forget you are dead
and I think, in the dream, I haven’t phoned you
for ages, I’ll give you a call now, have a chat.
And I’m so excited, in the dream, about speaking
to you, picking up the old phone and dialling,
excited to hear you again, your voice
in my dream, close to my chest, holding
your voice, in my dream, in my breath
holding the grief in my chest because
it is not the heart that feels this love or loss
but the lungs inflamed, meanwhile
the heart is busy measuring, decanting
moving on, and I stand here and think of you
and hold my breath and feel the loss of you.
Conversations with my Grandmother
Sometimes an owl flies by the house at night
she says, circling the air in front of her
to indicate his size.
I think of him flying low and deep
as through a warp in the warm night
a gift of elsewhere in his wingspan.
He lands on the roof while we sleep.
Overlapping feathers pattern the dark –
I hold the thought of him
up to the broken scales of the house
like a benediction.
The roof is the lid and the lip
of the house. Bats, she tells me
hide by day in the corners of the attic
their sweet faces wouldn’t hurt you
and field mice break the seal under the eaves
their bodies fast as rain
and wasps in summer
working away at the roof’s rim
building their cone of paper.
The droppings and dust
hair balls and skin
bone-flakes and shreds
these creatures leave in their passing.
If an owl flies into your room at night
and sits dead still on your washstand
cover him with a towel
and help him out of the window.
Wind blows through the rooms
like an interrogation.
Yes, the house is old.
The path is receding.
The fields escape from their edges.
Unaware of Bede’s fleeting sparrow
she tells me of the time an owl
flew through the window of the long room
another window open at the end
thinking the room was just
a different part of his night
a passage between the trees.