Poetry London Clore Prize 2018 THIRD PRIZE: Heaven by Selima Hill

We take a yellow cabbage to the hens
then carry on downhill to the boats,

my uncle in his little crumpled hat,
me in shorts, half-hidden in the hair

my lipstick aunts, well-meaning as they are,
will later rub in vain with heated groundnut oil.

They never even say what groundnuts are!
All they ever say is how uncouth I am;

to find the biggest house I could imagine,
inhabited by no one but an uncle

who grinned from ear to ear, his fluffed-up Newfoundlands
greeting me by stealing all my cake

as if to say we’re not big dogs for nothing!
The aunts are housed in prefabs in the grounds.

One of them secretes in her handbag
supplies of purple raspberry-flavoured cough-syrup.

Another one has wantered off to Africa
where soon she’ll die, of what he calls bewilderment.

So here I am, ascended into Heaven,
but at the aunts’, if not the dogs’, expense.

 
Judge’s Report by Kwame Dawes
 


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