Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2009


by Ruth Holt

That was the night that I threw my keys in the river, just to hear them go plop.
When the wind on my cheeks and the sound of the rushing,
deep and constant, made me feel like I was in motion without moving.
Frozen still in time but utterly in being.
Something in the skin, like I was glistening
and I wondered if this was the feeling of the sacred -
a kind of a pause in which there is a sense of oneness, yet not one at all.
Like I became part of a narrative.  

When I tell you I feel numb you put your arm around me
like as if I’m cold and you can warm me up.
But it’s a numbness inside, in my teeth, my nose, like I don’t quite fill up my face.
My body on the inside isn’t breathing, is so silent
that I can feel it in my throat.
Like there should be a sound but there isn’t.  

When we make love and you fall asleep beside  
I lie and feel so strange. My body inside has got up and left the room,
is running in feet, faster than thoughts,  
but I am still, listening to the sound of a breath that isn’t mine.
I put my hand between my legs to see if it feels the same.
Strangely it feels real, and that stuns me.  

If you picture the steam on the window,
when the night is freezing and you are burning in my bed,
if you picture how steamy the windows get,
and I’ll sit up slightly and press my hand to the window,
to make it go smudgy and then droplets of water run down.
I can draw a hole just big enough to let the moon see through,
 and I can see the garden a little bit, and it’s like a secret,  
between me and the moon, while you’re just there sleeping.  

I think I fell in love you most when you weren’t there.  

When you’re awake sometimes you just seem to be taking up all the air.
I can imagine you listening though, with a part of you I have never seen,
A part that is looking out to see me, unsure of itself.
It is a child and I will show it conjuring tricks,
throw sparks in the sky and make him smile.
We will have secrets, like children building a den in the forest,
and once I’ve got him I won’t let him go.
We will not speak because words forget their own meaning as they filter upwards.
But we will neither of us be alone.  

And then perhaps when I look at you, it will be OK not to love you,
because I have saved you. You are inside me.

Added: 30.04.2009