Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010

To Big School

by Banba Roche

A pressed blue checked summer dress,
folded away in a bottom drawer.
Pencils added to the crayon pot,
replaced by pens with steel nibs.

Knee high socks, binned. 
Now tights show long leg hair fraying
through like elastic from on an old cuff, 
so secretly shaved off with a top-shelf razor.
Pink lunch case, gone.
The fat rucksack with thick straps
is exposed against a wicker chair,
in the click of a security light from the night patio

Where flowers had bordered in friends and dolls
and rollerskates .  Where bouncing that bright,
plastic ball against the gravel wall sprayed the ground
with a sound like sea splashing rock.
The bloated bag, heavy and waiting
to slow me when I leave the breathless, safe duvet
like a snail aware and reaching outside of its shell.

Morning, in the car, on my first day -
Springsteen’s singing to his sweetheart 
about leaving their blue collar town and a knit
of small fingers are broken by mother reassuring:
Don’t worry, she says, you’ll make new friends.

Any friend would do now, or just a face I know -
even Dan who eats worms or Sarah with the sticky eyes.
The traffic’s moving forward now - trapped like an animal
watching the hunter’s light come closer with each quiet breath.
Children big enough to eat me,
boys as tall as Dad, gangs of girls
with painted faces leave their cars. 
Erase me, leave me marooned!

Then a second me took the little me by the hand,
and marched me forward
for the closing of a line.

Added: 01.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


Vivid and well-drawn. Reminds me afresh of so many things I'd almost forgotten- loved the description of leg hair coming through the tights!


The fourth stanza is my favourite - I wonder if the poem is a little too long and could be more effective if a little more direct?


I love the images in this poem, the way the anxiety and the enlargement of life is illustrated by changes in objects and activities.


Time goes so fast when you are a child