MAG Poetry Competition 2010 – Shortlisted Poem

My Parents' Bedroom

by Sharon Black

They slept in an ocean liner,
a padded, studded headboard at the bow.
Straight across the hall from mine,      
it gleamed like royalty.
Over there, my mother’s dressing table:
white, gilt-edged, a glass sheet over damask lace
on which hairbrush, comb and hand mirror
nestled in velvet.
Here, my father’s crumpled handkerchiefs,
a scatter of battered paperbacks, bridge magazines,
the soft balls of yesterday’s socks:
a trove of sweat and grime.
Evenings he would return, raise the anchor,
draw curtains over the portholes
and tell us tales
of the strange new worlds he’d seen.
Alone I’d creep across the purple pile,
hold my balance against the sea’s sway
and drape myself in silks,
pearls and white high-heels.
Slipping in on Sunday mornings
between the salty air and deep skin,
I’d lie awake listening
for the creak of beams and planks

and the scuttling of galley rats.

Added: 07.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


I loved this poem. It stood out for me from the start, full of beautiful imagery and language. I could just see the scene!


Good one, Liked it..


Lovely tone, subtle homophony, quietly moving.


This poem is nicely crafted, with the nautical metaphor beautifully maintained throughout.


Lovely child's view of a parents' world.


Some lovely childhood imagery here but could be stronger if poet had used metaphor rather than simile. Last stanza is lovely.


I love this view of the parental bed and the child's perceptions of it as something exotic.


I love the images in this poem especially the cicada legs like tinder. I also love the alliteration in the first line.


Wonderful extended metaphor. Really loved the idea of this. Powerful. Loved last haunting line.


Loved this poem, so sorry not in my top 4. i struggled with this decision.