Poems for Peace competition – 1st Prize: Heather Glover
Filed under: Poetry
Read Heather Glover's winning poem from our Poems for Peace competition for 11-18 year olds.
The nations lie awkwardly side by side:
A checkerboard in foreign countryside.
These hedgerows had their fragment of time. Now,
There’s a three-metre wide walking divide
Cuts up the forgive & unite & etcetera.
The German graves sink back, half veiled in leaves.
Sunlight like angel feathers falls across
Each stone alike, intimately. Each stone
Unlike the other, mostly: here, one’s mother
Emptied out her four-line summary of loss
On paper morphed by sea salt into stone.
Words like beloved. Only. Father, brother,
Son. Sometimes, where black ink bleeds
Or flesh in flashes reinvents itself
They drift known only to the Lord. Some names
Still echo, inert, across the sea
When poppies offer up the all-inclusive prayer-
Their names liveth forevermore. But God,
It seems, forgot those at the back,
Half veiled in leaves. A category alone
Floats unemotive on the unknown stones:
Ein deutscher Soldat.
This is where they drew the line between
Forgive and forget. Three metres of grass,
And language now a raft that floats on
Allied sea. These graves flagged up:
Three metres of grass and split
With speech, where silence ought to speak
Its transcendental peace.
In the reflective isolation of
A graveyard near Caen, the ranks of men
Forget themselves in soil; unruhig, unease,
Decay in unity. So now it’s true.
All stone is white. Bone, the whitest residue.
17-18 years old
King Edward VI School, Stratford Upon-Avon