Entry - Poetic Republic Poetry Prize 2014

Nervosa

by Natalie Charlesworth

Sitting beside you now, with my fingers

wound tightly around your wrist, more

prison guard than sister. You are broken

down by the weight of your mind. Driven

by the urge to display the fine china

network of your bones. Suspended under

the foxed canvas of your skin I can feel

 

the compressed arch where the Radius

joins the Ulna. It reminds me of last year’s

Christmas turkey - which you did not eat -

and the wishbone you insisted on pulling

anyway. The image of us lingers still:

fingers linked on either side of the bone,

each pulling in different directions.

 

Added: 30.04.2014

Judges' comments on this poem

20.05.2014

Marvellous poem!

22.05.2014

Excellent. Short but punchy and succeeds because it does not try to be overcomplicated. The poem taps into the unsaid aspects of human relationships and bonds with those we are close to and the sadness of those fading relationships which will all inevitable demise. Will stay with me.

23.05.2014

This poems says a lot with very few words. It holds a different meaning for every reader; the speaker of the poem communicates her emotion in a really thoughtful and evocative way. The use of lingo gives an impression of medical understanding and helps to hold the speaker in respectful light.

23.05.2014

Although self harm seems a regular topic for poets this is reaaly well done. Loved the imagery of the radius and ulna and the wishbone which she chose to pull and the two sisters on oposing sides of stability.

27.05.2014

A wonderful use of form in this poem. The poet has managed to make a difficult experience into something beautiful a prosaic. The language is particularly enjoyable as is the use of anatomy to express a range of meaning and narrative. At once this poem is touching, bleak and domestically relatable.

01.06.2014

My darling first choice. This piece is charming penned in its tragedy. It is honest, pure, real and truly emotional to the finish. Please continue to write and write with the same truth onwards into the future - I wish you well.

02.06.2014

A moving account of an anorexic sibling. It combines both the physical and emotional reality of the condition with powerful imagery.

02.06.2014

This poem is such a great distillation of personal experience its wonderful.

02.06.2014

Powerful and effective vignette on this distressing complaint.

02.06.2014

Short and sweet.

03.06.2014

Great use of language.

04.06.2014

This so economically expresses the sadness and frustration of the caring sister, it communicates the hopelessness of one faced with a loved one with an intractable condition. The turkey wishbone image is so creative, usually a pleasant collaborative activity is phrased as stark opposition.

05.06.2014

Tightly focused on physical bodies, skin and bone, as a way of exploring the non-physical - relationships, mental breakdown just alluded to obliquely.

05.06.2014

A compact poem which suggests a great deal. I liked 'Driven/ by the urge to display the fine china/ network of your bones' and being reminded of last year's wishbone, part of a meal 'which you did not eat'.

06.06.2014

The ending and the image of the wishbone are immense. Very tight piece. I can't work out 'foxed canvas' but this is possibly my own ignorance. There is so much going on here and it is a very concise and precise piece of work. Mixed success with the line breaks,some work more than others. Great stuff

08.06.2014

Good enjambment, a moving sonnet dealing with the difficult condition of anorexia nervosa. Like 'the foxed canvas of your skin'. Clever metaphor at the end - the image of these two sisters pulling in opposite directions is powerful.

10.06.2014

Beautifully restrained, so very moving - the move from the anorexic's body to the turkey's bones is unexpected and astonishing.

11.06.2014

You feel you're watching for only seconds but seeing hours.

12.06.2014

An emotive poem of the love bond between siblings pulling in different directions. Not sure about the metaphor of last year's turkey. I know it's in context but it seemed to jar against the eloquence of the first stanza.

13.06.2014

I really liked this poem, so much emotion put into the description of the hands. So much meaning then linked to Christmas and I really liked the comparison of their relationship to the wishbone - them being pulled apart.

13.06.2014

Beautiful. Succinct, a clear point, lovely use of language and imagery.

14.06.2014

A cleverly written and touching poem that uses simple acts to illuminate greater meaning.

14.06.2014

Easily the best in this set of 12. Brilliant word choices, amazing how so much is said with so few words. Such a short poem but an entire story is woven here. So moving and relatable.

15.06.2014

Brief and beautifull

15.06.2014

Very moving portrayal of the mental and physical effects of this illness including the impact on realtionships. Clever parallel drawn between the turkey bones and her sister's bones. The last line sums up how the illness has affected them

15.06.2014

This is a stunning poem, encapsulating subtly and yet undoubtedly the heartbreaking struggle and conflict this illness creates within the families involved. It was so hard to place this as I found 3 poems in this round I liked equally. But we have to choose a ranking, I'm afraid.

16.06.2014

nice poem

19.06.2014

Interesting

19.06.2014

Lovely poem. Evocative in its simplicity.

19.06.2014

This is very succinct, that is to say that each word is obviously very carefully chosen and none are wasted. Which is appropriate given the subject matter! Love the bone imagery used to describe the illness's physical and emotional effects.

19.06.2014

I was also pulled in 2 directions. Most lines are restrained and exquisite. eg foxed canvas, radius joins the Ulna, the wishbone image. Some bits are too expository eg the title, 'broken by ...mind; ' 'the image lingers still . The last line could be more subtle

19.06.2014

Thought provoking.

19.06.2014

Beautiful

19.06.2014

This is such an elegant and economical poem. It's meaning is so accessible. The depth of feeling does has n need of obscure allusions. The collaborative pulling apart of the wishbone conveys the frustration of desire to communicate yet impossibility of real contact - different worlds.

19.06.2014

A short but nicely put together poem, nice concept and a nice read.

19.06.2014

Delicately done.

19.06.2014

Somehow, I agree that today we need art that points out porblems.

19.06.2014

Renders the awful, hopeless sense of loss and anguish associated with eating disorders.

19.06.2014

Beautiful concise peem, deftly executed with razor sharp images which are instant yet arresting. Its deeply personal yet translates more universally to the wider complications of family, mental illness, the fragility of the human condition.

19.06.2014

I can clearly see this image.

19.06.2014

touching and vivid

19.06.2014

Tender and sad. A difficult subject.

19.06.2014

I'm not too keen on poems about illness and the now established genre of poems that read like prose, but this is effective in many ways.

19.06.2014

I like how tightly the poem weaves together the the human and animal (as we often forget we are). Not sure I understand the title of the poem or its intent (I've no idea what it's about).

19.06.2014

A very good analogy here with the hold on the wrist and chicken wish-bone and the turn in the last three lines is so poignant.

19.06.2014

Stark and economical with a lingering, heartfelt punch. So deeply conveys the prison of anorexia.

19.06.2014

I really liked the story and the imagery

19.06.2014

Painfully and precisely beautiful.

19.06.2014

I loved the metaphor in the the anecdote, very thought provoking.

19.06.2014

The title says it all for this piece. The concept of a sibling looking at their ill sister and describing who she is and their relationship is disturbingly awesome. The bones and the almost scientific nature begins to transform her from a person into a skeleton, dehumanizing her as her anorexia does

19.06.2014

A very simple yet effective poem, I really enjoyed the tension that was created and the conflict of the narrator. The image of the wishbone is truly wonderful, the separating, the emptiness. Wonderful.

19.06.2014

Profound and heartbreaking,a truthful reality emebelished only by the mafic of words.

19.06.2014

Such an original view of anorexia. The bone imagery is very strong and poignant.

19.06.2014

Clear imagery and word choice flows together well.

19.06.2014

I like the idea of death and life being pulled like a turkey bone.

19.06.2014

You convey the physical and emotional brittleness of the sufferer and a sort of hopelessness at not being able to help, and a sadness.

19.06.2014

better

19.06.2014

oooh. that's nice. Tugs at the mind, well done.

19.06.2014

On first reading I found this a cool and uneasy sonnetesque poem; I liked it. Further readings have deepened these sensations - it expands in all directions: it's sad, affectionate, frustrated, hopeful, desolate. It's like a really good wine: it improves immeasurably with breathing. I now love it.

19.06.2014

Sad, powerful and concise.

20.06.2014

I like how succinct this poem is. You haven't overdosed on harrowing description or tried to unpick the 'whys'. It gives the reader a simple snapshot and is what it is. Very well done.

20.06.2014

There's a detachment in this poem which suggests a lack of empathy, but thankfully that is not over-played. Phrases like "broken down by the weight of your mind" and "each pulling in different directions" suggest an understanding and a welcome compassion

20.06.2014

A beautifully crafted poetic image.

20.06.2014

Simple and so sad. Hauntingly beautiful.

20.06.2014

A clever and well executed conceit. The extended image of bones with its associations is pleasing. Well-paced and ending with impact.

20.06.2014

I love the discriptive line of the china bones and the way the writer describes feeling the arch of the radius joining the ulna. Coupled with the Christmas turkey which hadn't been eaten but the wishbone still being pulled it provokes thought for those with (what I assume to be) eating disorders.

21.06.2014

The symbolic wishbone says more about the illness than a direct description ever could.

21.06.2014

Really powerful imagery, I love the last sentence, though the word "foxed" seems a bit awkward.

21.06.2014

This is precise and beautiful, full of feeling.

21.06.2014

Beautiful fragility in words and sentiment.

21.06.2014

The imagery of the too-thin person being broken down by the weight of his/her mind works beautifully, as does their need to reveal their bones; together with the two opposing kinds of wishes made on the chicken bone this makes for a wonderfully delicate and sensitive poem.

21.06.2014

An calm, composed poem with prevailing emotions of something dark (depression?), but not without the lingering of faint hope. 'Fingers' connect the two stanzas, the present and the past. Powerful end-lines emphasise: 'can feel / different directions'. The 'us' pulled apart, along with the wishbone.

21.06.2014

The metaphor at the end is amazingly potent.

21.06.2014

This is beautifully written - a sad elegy to the sister that the poet is losing to anorexia. I loved the subtlety - the title, reduced to one word; the poetic descriptions such as 'Driven/by the urge to display the fine china/network of your bones.' A fresh, memorable take on a difficult subject.

22.06.2014

A great deal said in few words. Very well written. The use of the turkey wishbone used to describe the different paths chosen, cleverly used,and also impacted what the reader already knew about the anerexi, dying patient.

22.06.2014

Such a touching poem about such a terrible nervous complaint. Finely drawn metaphors especially that of the Christmas turkey wishbone sketch an all-too-familiar picture. As a bonus the poem is sonnet-length.

22.06.2014

A touching poem, the comparison of human bones to a turkey shows how debilitating the condition can be.

22.06.2014

This poem reminds me of me and my sister, so many parts to decipher, but I really enjoyed reading it, good luck!

23.06.2014

A moving portrayal of someone with Anorexia Nervosa, with many lovely metaphors (fine china network of your bones, foxed canvas of your skin...) I gave this top spot in another round - today 2nd place. A modern-day sonnet with a sad & powerful ending. Perhaps rearrange as 12 lines followed by 2.

23.06.2014

I love sonnets, and this is a good one!

23.06.2014

It reminds me of our vulnerability as living things

23.06.2014

Gets the tone just right. Tight, well controlled use of language. Strong imagery.

23.06.2014

For me this portrays the involuntary and painful bond of a fragile blood relationship; a sort of inescapable and irreconcilable intimacy - as unavoidable as it is unwanted

24.06.2014

Brilliant - a topic very close to my own heart!

24.06.2014

An expeditious poem on a delicate subject that is carried effectively from start to finish.

24.06.2014

Beautiful metaphor with the wishbone and perfectly describes the powerlessness and opposition you can feel when trying to help someone with anorexia. The fine china image really conveys the physical fragility. Very tight poem. Love it.

24.06.2014

Tender and lovely

24.06.2014

What won me over to this poem was the whole metaphor of "fine china" and "bones". I thought it was a nuanced way of stating the fragility of the person's health. The poem is so short yet is so powerful and evocative.

24.06.2014

A very moving poem 'broken by the weight of your mind', very profound. An exquisite descriptive piece too. The thread of 'bone' throughout the poem is clear and cleanly done.

24.06.2014

The wishbone scene that is conjured up in the second stanza makes the paralleled present seem all the more immediate and urgent, destitute and yet somehow hopeful - unmistakably fragile.

24.06.2014

excellent poem, great imagery.

25.06.2014

The final image of this poem brilliantly conveys the fragility of our animal body; and the way love makes this private body more than just our own - two sisters fighting for/over the one (loved/hated) body. Very powerful.

25.06.2014

One moment captured

25.06.2014

Concentrated simple & powerful. The poem focuses on a few images with potency and is stronger for it. Very evocative

25.06.2014

I read this in an earlier stage and am glad it has made it to this stage. It casually describes what it is like to be close to an anorexia sufferer, and feels so weighty, just as the author describes the weight ones of her sister's poor mind.

25.06.2014

An imaginative tale of sisterhood and the ever changing circumstances of life. Thank you for sharing.

25.06.2014

Very moving..the winner for me.

25.06.2014

Horribly descriptive and yet oddly beautiful.

25.06.2014

I quite like this, with some reservations: what is "foxed canvas?" Straining a bit there. Really like the first 4 lines and the entire 'Xmas turkey bit in the second stanza. Moreover, the poem ends well, coherent and dramatic but not gimmicky in establishing the relationship between the siblings.

26.06.2014

+

26.06.2014

How poignant and full of desperate love this poem is. The hardest thing is attempting to cuddle a person with wasted flesh, in case you break them. Awful!

26.06.2014

a shockingly realistic poem of anorexia and the mental health problems that it endures, succinctly and wholey put in so few lines

26.06.2014

Well placed sentences make for a beautiful rhythm.

26.06.2014

Simply extraordinary.

27.06.2014

Good imagery.. could use some more imagery of her bones and your emotion.

27.06.2014

Powerful evocation of anorexia.

27.06.2014

This is a very moving poem with a storytelling style about a sister with a serious eating disorder. Some great use of metaphors like "More like prison guard than sister"

27.06.2014

The metaphor with the turkey is just utterly disturbing. I mean, seriously?

27.06.2014

A sad poem describing with great power the terrible physical and psychological experience of an eating disorder.

28.06.2014

Concise and effective poem about Anorexia and the effect it has on, not only the host of the condition but also those close to them.

28.06.2014

It reads as the beginning of a short story, a poem by no means.

28.06.2014

This flows easily and so much said in a few lines, very emotional, strong ending.

28.06.2014

A very simple poignant portrayal that penetrates into depth without effort.

29.06.2014

A stong subject, economically and compassionately treated

29.06.2014

A simple and touching poem showing the raw feelings of someone trying to come to terms with trauma.

29.06.2014

very powerful imagery and diction is used to bring the feeling of being nervous alive inside the reader.

30.06.2014

Strong start. Imporessively unsentimental.

30.06.2014

Evocative, concisely written and so sad!

30.06.2014

I love the way the story is told in metaphor, the minimal language that says just enough and so beautifully.

30.06.2014

it shows the love and affection and the time lost in the sands of time

30.06.2014

Sad and understated, a short glimpse at a moment. Interesting almost chilling connections drawn between the bones of the dead bird and the relative.

30.06.2014

Recognition in this take on the complex bonds of family.

30.06.2014

This is very much to my taste. Excellent title, which sums up the vibe of the poem. Its compactness lends to its punch.

30.06.2014

I enjoyed the flow of the poem, feel free to play with the spacing and punctuation more. Don't be afraid to break classical constraints. Best of Luck.

30.06.2014

Very poignant

30.06.2014

This is a very compelling reference to the struggle connected with eating disorders. I loved the description of the mental and emotional structure captured in the analogy of the wishbone. Great job!

30.06.2014

A fine poem about a relationship. Sadness and love thread through it. Concise yet fully descriptive, it is well crafted and satisfying.

30.06.2014

It remains in my mind far longer than other poems usually do. I love the descriptive words the poet uses to describe the specific body part.

30.06.2014

Nice eye for details

30.06.2014

Good description of an illness and effects on family. Obviously from the heart.

30.06.2014

A very powerful picture, the pulling of the chicken bone an effective metaphor for the emotional tug of the anorexic and her sister; the pull between life and illness.

30.06.2014

A short, tense and melodramatic piece on sisterhood and anorexia. It takes an emotional journey of care and concern for siblings via jealousy and conflict ('more prison guard than sister'). The last line nicely brings us to a slight cliffhanger with a quietly cautious sense of doom.

30.06.2014

Already commented upon in a previous round.

30.06.2014

Second choice

30.06.2014

Interesting poem

01.07.2014

I like this. Very expressive of anorexia. Nice sonnet structure.

01.07.2014

A good poem about a difficult subject. Manages to be touching but without being mawkish. The image of the turkey wishbone is simple but effective and conveys well the writer's sense of powerlessness to check the progress of his/her sister's disease.

01.07.2014

ok

01.07.2014

A compact poem which hints at a great deal. I liked 'Driven/ by the urge to display the fine china/ network of your bones' and being reminded of last year's wishbone.

01.07.2014

This painful poem is told with great restraint. The medical terms - radius, ulna - and the precise and undemonstrative imagery 'fine china bones', 'the weight of your mind' and the excellent final image of pulling the wishbone also contribute to the tone of understated sadness.

01.07.2014

A frank and clever poem. Its starkness reflects the physical image of the poem's subject: a body of bones stripped from flesh.

01.07.2014

Loved this immediately. So powerful a picture; apparently so simple. Love the 2 stanza form, 7 lines apiece which give the poem tremendous balance and mirror both halves of the wishbone and the 2 sisters. Very very well done. Love "foxed canvas" too.

01.07.2014

The poem communicates well the powerlessness of those who live with an eating-disordered person and the disturbed thinking that accompanies the disorder. The wishbone image is striking. 'Suspended under....I can feel' - I don't think the syntax is right here. It's not the poet who's suspended.

01.07.2014

Confident with excellent command of its diction. A haunting & disturbing poem balancing pathos and drama. The ending however is rather generic in opposition to the finely detailed observations leading to it. Enjambment is effective but in stanza 1, line 6 I suggest moving "under" to line 7.

01.07.2014

Too maudlin for me...

01.07.2014

A haunting poem, which has grown on me as I have read and re-read it here. I like the line "You are broken down by the weight of your mind", which concisely conveys the psychological nature of Anorexia Nervosa. The wishbone image reveals the jutting bones of one sister and the pulling apart of both.

01.07.2014

Loved this in an earlier round and it's still great on re-reading. Glad to have seen it reach the final list and to have gotten another chance to read it.

01.07.2014

Short but powerful.

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