The Humber Mouth - Hull Literature Festival 2000 - Thursday 9th November - Sunday 19th November 2000
Open Poetry Competition


On her back, eyes closed, she plays her ribs
click-clack- a far-off game of mah-jong
and remembers the story of a mother who
stamped her foot and stopped the earth,

So that barley withered on the stalk,
cows aborted their calves. The soil hardened
broke the plough share. Nine days calling
for a daughter plucked from a meadow.

Down here a day lasts a month, and there's time
enough to consider the architecture of a shell
and seahorses, whose skulls click lightly as they eat
or the intricate construction of a sparrow's skeleton.

She desires the purity of bone, its lasting strength.
Weighed down by ridiculous flesh, she denies
even pomegranate seeds. Soon she'll slip away
when no-one, not even a mother, is watching.

J.E.Murphy, Huddersfield

"At first glance, this is a reworking of the Persephone/Demeter/Hades myth, "a daughter plucked from a meadow" but this child is not coming back. "she denies even pomegranate seeds". There is an obsession with bones - is she anorexic? A chilling fusion of past and present concerns."


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