Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Mother

by Freda Ellis

With a child’s voice I said can I come with you.
She said no and cried for days.
 
They came into the room, worn faces down, nervous of me.
I was so small there was nothing I could do to hurt them but they were still afraid.
They said what they had too and I looked at them and
they shrunk away inside, you could see it behind their eyes, they shrunk away
from now, please they had thought, let it be any other time than now.
 
It was dark out, raining.
An army of lights besieged the road as the traffic slowed at rush hour.
It was a monstrous snake of grief, rumbling, winding away into the rain-lit blurry nothing, eating each
of us in turn.
 
They said things.
Promises.
I would carry her with me always, that she would never be gone.
Not truly gone and I alone.
They said that she would be the wind in my hands, the sky in my eyes, the earth
between my toes.
 
With child’s eyes I looked and saw the spiders on the spiders on the bed that were her hands.
Each yellow, each dead, each beautiful, still.
Now, later, when the years have stretched and moulded me,
I cannot recall the song on the wind, cannot make out the face in the sky.

She was my favourite book, known word for word, worn down by years, though few she
saw, not thirty-four.
 
She is truly gone and lost to me.
To all of you I love so deeply, dearly, if ever you are gone before me I will weep, for I would have you with
me always.

Added: 28.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem

05.05.2011

The inability to deal with other people's grief and to bear your own comes over clearly in this poem

20.05.2011

Very touching, told through the eyes of a child, we can feel your pain. I like this poem a lot.

23.05.2011

This poem resonates so much with me - I remember the death of my sister when I was 8 years old - you've captured something special her

24.05.2011

There is something very simple and direct about this one, I felt I could hear the voice of the writer speaking all the way through it

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