Flambard Poetry Prize 2014 Second Prize
Two poems by the second-prize winner of the 2014 Flambard Poetry Prize, Kathleen Bainbridge:
Who could believe you came so close once –
kneeling on a white cotton dhurrie, four floors up,
holding your head to stop your thoughts from bolting,
fragments of fiddle tunes gusting up stairwells,
along corridors, as people drift from room to room.
That window there, open, invites the stars
to tell you whatever you choose will disappear,
swallowed down deep into the shadow
of a hemisphere in hiding. From below,
a male voice floats to you in the Aeolian,
groups of new-found friends hush their talk;
in the muffled warmth of a summer night,
faraway traffic carries the currents of living
that cross and part almost beyond your hearing.
Four Pictures of Mary Ellen
My hair, if I let it, would be as white now
as yours, pinned at the nape in its bun
in the candlelit front room, my last view
of your profile, grave as a Roman matron.
I watch you set the kettle on the range,
stir the coals, fetch the toasting fork
as I tack through sheets that sail the back lane,
racing to Mrs MacRae’s for flatcake.
You gaze out in your formal sepia beauty,
composed and still beside your leaning groom
whose eyes already seem to turn away
along the path of faithlessness to come.
Tender among the ranks of Irish peasants
that bred you, dark hair brutally chopped
against vermin, your child’s face haunts
its future, the small boots, the artless hope.