The London Club sponsors the school’s ‘Prize For An English Poem’ at the annual prize-giving ceremony. Thanks to Pauline Walker, who has sent us a copy of Tom Campbell’s excellent poem ‘Roses’ which was the winner of the London Club’s 2018 prize for an English Poem – we am sure you will enjoy reading it.
I often found my grandfather in his garden.
Bent low, with bare arms and hands blackened by peat
He turned the earth
and planted seeds
in straight rivets that sunk there.
I loved to watch
as he wrenched up carrots and twisted cabbage heads and
Sprung spring onions loose.
Dusty potatoes he would snap and toss to me,
‘Take them in son,
I’ll help you wash them for dinner.’
In the shade and evening breeze
he shuffled through his greenhouse.
I heard the easy sprinkle
until his can ran empty
and he could no longer see green
in the dark.
He came back through the garden
towards the house
Stopped and rubbed his knees
and squeezed stiff hands.
But grinned when I opened the door.
He pruned and shaped his rose bushes.
Snipped off stems and
dead – headed rotting blooms
To make room for new buds.
One day, work complete,
he stood, roses strewn around his feet,
on the red pavestones
scorched by summer.
When I ran to him,
I thorned myself.
His garden dripped
The salty sweat of blood and tears.
Grandad set down his secateurs
And took me in.
To clean dry my wound
and tape it shut.
In the morning
He had clipped his roses back to stalks
and dug them up.
His back has given in now
He’ll plant no more, he says,
Knees can only kneel at Mass.
In the kitchen
Hands, laced with thick veins like blue rope,
Shake as they pour my tea.
We look out to his garden
Where my cousins play games
and chase the dog
in Autumn’s leaves.
Grandad shakes his head and
Settled in his chair,
He sits until a wind kicks up cold
and the kids come in
And the moon comes over the hedge
As the last sunbeams tend to his garden.
The 2017 winner, Emma Sunter’s poem ‘I can’t think of not knowing you’ is published below.
Thanks to Val Peay for getting hold of Emma’s poem via the Rector Pauline Walker.
I can’t think of not knowing you
I thought you’d be a puppy,
But no, after nine months, a baby sister.
I called you Googs: you couldn’t speak.
Your hand wrapped round my little finger.
Driving home from Grandma’s house –
Close knit in popcorn seats with blanket knees
Twinkle, twinkle ombre sky –
You sang yourself to sleep.
We saw the world from treetops
Ran through icing sugar rain.
Raincoats, yellow mustard seed.
Our faith could move a mountain
Enough girls can do their hair
But you can run and leap and do hard sums.
You are constant finger tapping irritation
But music flows from you like rays of sun.
Bus tickets and sweet wrappers
You’re in those scraps of paper,
Ich kenne du wie meine Wesentasche,
I can’t move for you being there.
But this September, no more
Cereal in mutual weariness
I can’t bring your forgotten cello up the hill,
You can’t laugh when I’m too serious.
You’ll be sleeping in my raincoat pocket
Blanketed in my runny noses
Shielded by my loose change
I’ll tread lightly and not wake you.
I’ll need you more than pockets
I’ll stuff tissues up my sleeves
And coins in my shoes, to be
Close to you.