Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010

War Zone

by Michele Noble

Plastic bags, filled with jotters waiting to be marked
leaving red welts on fingers where the blood flow stops.
She stoops to pat the dog with numb hands as his claws clutch,
nylon ripping and skin scraped before she can cross the threshold of her home.
Children charge like bullets.  Their heads collide with her stomach at full force,
winding her, knocking her breath, but she is not on her knees yet.
Holding the baby close as he pulls at her hair and sticks a finger in her eye,
blinding tears stream down her face as
she says a loving hello to her assaulters.
Hours pass like seconds, seconds pass like hours.
The tea-time campaign begins in earnest and leaves an explosion behind:
the injury tally mounting as fingers are burnt while turning sausage rolls,
an ankle twisted as the dog gets underfoot, a nerve trapped as babes are lifted from baths.
Yet, finally, they sleep. 
Holding her breath, she retreats from their bedroom; lightheaded,
And staggers with fatigue into dressing table corners,
capillaries bursting instantaneously to add to the colourful splodges on her legs.
A lego piece stabs her bare foot and she bites her lip to stop herself from crying out and waking the troops.
She draws blood.
At 2200 hours she struggles to open the merlot bottle with a dodgy cork screw,
narrowly avoiding further harm. 
Then she sips, surveying her bag full of jotters. 
Battered, bloody and bruised.
Exhausted but undefeated.
Ready to fight another day.

Added: 25.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


Clever! A very recognisable scenario having children myself!