Five Go To The Island Again (commended poem: 2016 competition)

Timmy is long dead, and the others scattered.
Like picnic crumbs, thinks Anne,

on those occasional sweetly devastating days
when there’s a gust of island air,

coast-cupped, hot and sandy,
and with no place here, in Hertfordshire,

where her daughter is darting out of school
with the news that she will play Miranda.

The heroine! Claire is so full of stardom
she lets Anne lean in to kiss her hair,

which smells of Kirrin, which smells
of salt and ginger and sweat,

manageable space and seeming independence.
Anne doesn’t care for Ferdinand

or Prospero, but when she says as much
her daughter flounces off.

I might call him/ A thing divine
says Miranda, who has never seen a young man,

and Anne thinks of wilful Claire,
who would rather toss her head and swear

and get herself the hell out,
or Ferdinand out, or whatever suited her,

and how Anne admires her –
though on opening night it is clear

that the girl is no actor,
has to fight to call the teenage boys sir,

and Anne imagines herself up there,
among the crepe paper fronds of seaweed

and the cardboard palm trees
and there again is that island air,

warmth and grit, cowslip, wild garlic,
and here’s something rich and strange:

Miranda is going to stay;
she will not be queen of Naples;

so she waves off the boat of lordly men
and she sinks into the rough sand

with Ariel and Caliban and they start again.