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2nd prize in the Bedford Open Poetry Competition, 2011
published in The Interpreter’s House, 2011

 

 

The clue lies in the lady's toe

 

    On visiting Henry Moore’s sculpture
    in Dumfries and Galloway

 

On a Scottish hillside the bronze statue

of an archetypal king and queen

braves the elements,

 

observing, perhaps, a thread

of slit-eyed sheep winding up the hill,

with careful, delicate tread,

 

yellow marks like lichen

on their rumps, their gaze

full of vague unanswered questions.

 

My mind, also, struggles to explain

the different texture of the metal on

the king’s right knee. While all the rest

 

is stippled, rippled, riven

in a pattern to catch the varying

shades of light, his knee is smooth.

 

What point was the sculptor making

as he carefully fashioned this

one unblemished surface?

 

Only as I descend the hill

does a clear-cut memory emerge

from long ago, as I recall

 

a constant stream of pilgrims

filing past a marble statue of

the queen of heaven,

 

the slight roughness of the stone

contrasting sharply with the smooth

and shining toe

 

which generations of the pious

have knelt to fondle and to kiss,

wearing away the awkward corners

 

and bringing out a deeper shine. The line

of sheep has reached the sculpture now,

and as I watch

 

each sidles up to the impassive king

and meditatively rubs her rump

against his knee.

 

                           Alwyn Marriage

 

 

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poetry favourites:
Oversteps Books

and in the shop ...
collections -
"Notes from a Camper Van",
Bellhouse Books;
"fest: Celebrating winter and Christmas",
and
"Touching Earth",
Oversteps Books

 


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