Poetry Competition 2012 – Portfolio Prize Winner
in the cellar like they said.
Through a chink: the landing, lost in heat,
hazed in hieroglyphs.
Afterwards the street was ghosted
in slivers of words, in phrases buckled or split,
in snatches of alphabet that once sheltered
cities on my tongue.
All summer long, the sun scorched
silence into motes
as I sat in rubble, scooping dust,
running my fingers through its mute mounds,
adding water to make a clay
as if I could mould a language, swallowing
the dot of an i
as if that might be the cure.
The doctors say the tower can be rebuilt.
The therapists say the builders need retraining.
The philosophers say the tower
is not the point.
I tell them – this was no earthquake, no act of God,
no deliberate conflagration.
The sun’s heat simply melted mortar, shifted
stonework out of place.
My bones do not reveal the truth:
within me is the hairline crack
that brought the whole tower down.