Poetry London Clore Prize 2019: Highly Commended

Nicholas Murray

WODGE

I’d like to think it was our tongues,
recalcitrant, not coldly mocking,
that made the new boy into “Wodge”.
The best that we could do.

So Wodziński, the doctor’s son,
shared my double-desk
and when his lid was lifted
the mess was mesmerising.

This was primal chaos:
torn jotters, chocolate wrappers,
broken pencils, various kinds
and orders of abandoned food.

I think of him now as a surgeon,
bow-tied, sleek, a gracious manner
towards the parents of the child
whose tumour he has neatly taken out.