You carry your daughter’s coffin yourself
in the two hands that held her,
resting with feathers of black hair
a pulsing fledgling on your skin.
Not even an arm’s span of white wood,
you place her on the table,
with the backdrop, her name ‘Chloe’ and a teddy picked out
in cream chrysanthemums, pink gerbera buttons.
This is it. The end of tubes and operations.
The end of the children’s hospital’s well-trained nurses;
other parents, some as young as you, still glide
between intensive care and home, like ghosts.
It never ends though, does it?
The memory of her small body in, and on, your body
united warm on warm.
No end to the care that needs more
than two hands to hold it;
that surges on sleepless nights,
when you are with your other children,
those of strangers,
at the supermarket checkout,
passing those hospital doors.
Care by Claire Williamson received a special mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones.
The Parrot and the Dove
Inside, beyond the pane, behind the bars,
he’s in his tight suit of matt-grey chain-mail,
clacking the keyless padlock of his beak,
flaring his crimson molten-metal tail.
She flutters unfettered across an open sky.
Her black velvet collar is undone. Her scale,
her shape, her shade, suggest she’s his far sister,
set up the parallel, the glib freedom-fable.
But what if the tiny birdcage of her self
is utter, inescapable constraint?
What if his dark eyes easily encompass
a world unwalled, unroofed and infinite?
The Parrot and the Dove by Mark Totterdell was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones.
Whenever my mother spoke French
green birds flew into the kitchen.
They circled the formica table — so fast
that green became a whining sound.
The birds they sang my mother young,
her shiny ankles asking to be seen.
They sang her slender arms, holding open spaces
then leaving them, drunk on each new idiom.
They sang my mother lace.
And when the birds left, as they always did,
I watched her knot the apron ties
behind her back,
like a well-worn magic trick.
Non-Native by G.E. Stevens was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2019) judged by Terry Jones.