MAG Poetry Competition 2011 – 2nd Prize Winner

Bank holiday

by Clare Foges

We were the only ones on the pier
under a heavy sky, grey like something coming.
Bedraggled as orphans, rain soaked through our T-bars 
and itched at the cuffs of our coats. You led us on,
filled our pockets with coppers and our mouths
with gold coins, candy floss, a cuddly toy for me,
a goldfish won for my sister, flashing orange
and exotic against the grey.
 
That was the day you said you were going away.
Ranged us on a bench like a jury, spread
the evidence of your dreams before us like brochures,
sounded the syllables of your new home – Aus-tray-lee-ah –
made it sound like a fantasy for the four of us.
Even stuttered at the edges of what love is,
what grown-ups have to do... Panicking,
you conjured up kangaroos and in that moment
were not the sharp-shooter, goldfish winner,
but a man fumbling over his escape clauses,
hand fluttering to the pink spot on your crown
as the little ones asked how many sleeps til we got there
and would we have suitcases like Paddington bear.
 
I knew. Knew about one-way tickets, knew at the first that
this was us – pier, sea, grey, sky – and from now
something else was you. Tasting the salt toffee in my mouth,
looking up, seeing a seagull swoop and soar to somewhere else.

Added: 28.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem

04.05.2011

this tells a story succinctly and with great atmosphere and emotion. It is very visual; I really enjoyed it

17.05.2011

A whole story unfolds when reading this poem. I loved the lines: "Even stuttered at the edges of what love is/ What grown-ups have to do..".

17.05.2011

Very nice ideas, esp. Padington Bear suitcases. Sometimes a bit too wordy, could do with some editing.

17.05.2011

Wonderful images of a seaside resort on a bank holiday, followed by a crued revelation

18.05.2011

Beautiful descriptions and deep sense of the child's knowing and loss

18.05.2011

Evocative and melancholic. Well-handled emotional depth

18.05.2011

great images portrayed, and a good ending, very profound.

19.05.2011

I liked this but voting hard this round. The syllable bit spoilt it for me a little.

26.05.2011

I really like how the minor, seemingly unrelated details are used in such a way that they totally paint a rich and full picture in your head

28.05.2011

Lovely use of language and a great manipulation of a single event into much broader themes.

08.06.2011

I like the image of the bench and jury and the fading illusions of a child regarding his/her father, along with the father's guilt.

08.06.2011

I loved this poem. I could see the children sitting there and dad trying too hard to make their day special before leaving. My winner!

08.06.2011

Tells a story truly and using vivid imagery. Could see the looks on the faces of the children! Lovely storytelling

08.06.2011

Very bitter-sweet, nice images with the pier and the salt toffee especially. Good contrast between young and old.

08.06.2011

Wonderful word pictures ... like a photo developing. Really enjoyed this!

08.06.2011

this is brilliant - my favourite overall

09.06.2011

This was a powerful, believable but convincingly unsentimental poem full of strong and immediate sights and sounds -visceral

09.06.2011

Child's view very effective and the imagery enhances the sadness of the father leaving. The seagull flying off is significantly placed.

09.06.2011

This poem begins simply enough, but there are some great lines and it builds up a convincing picture of loss.

10.06.2011

powerful images,spot on

10.06.2011

Good poem, though a slightly anti-climactic ending which seemed as though it was tagged on in a rush. Will be great with a little work there

11.06.2011

Painful carefully crafted and understated with great images - on a bench like a jury, escape clause - and lots of colour, taste, touch.

11.06.2011

Beautiful imagery and extremely evocative. I like the attention to detail and feel I'm there

13.06.2011

so many brilliant lines:'grey, like something coming' 'like brochures' - the setting, reality of the situation couldn't be better conveyed.

14.06.2011

My top choice, well done for creating such a world of emotion, pathos, alienation, and latent anger in such a beautiful, succinct way.

17.06.2011

Good title. Well-drawn moment. Think about how to use The 4th Dimension. Here, Time feels pinned, like a dead butterfly.

17.06.2011

very good, enjoyed the descriptions here, you painted a vivid picture.

18.06.2011

liked the sky 'grey like something coming' and the poignancy of the poem.

18.06.2011

Just loved this. I'm there -on that bench, tasting that toffee, looking at that gull! Honest,deceptively simple, powerful. In my last top 4.

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