Two Rivers Press would like to congratulate Susan Utting.
Susan’s “Self-Portrait as a Ticked Box” took 2nd prize in the McLellan poetry competition.
Self-Portrait as a Ticked Box
I would paint myself green for the luck of the Irish, purple
my mouth for a Bow bell’s chime, one arm banded black
for the death of a king, dress in red for the wake of my sister.
For the stones on a South coast beach I’d wear rubber shoes,
for my sea-worthy father a hat made of canvas, cut from a jib.
I’d be sitting up straight, for uncle Joe’s Friday night dinners.
At my back I’d sketch bulbfields for Freda and Eddie,
their glasshouses still on the Great Ouse’s banks, no floods
but a windmill with still sturdy sails for my grandfathers.
For my foremothers I would put fat Russian dolls, full of dear
little girls, on collapsible tables, with linen and crochet hooks,
cooking pots, stained with pearl-barley, and chicken-bone soup.
I’d be dancing a jig, a mazurka, an old-fashioned waltz, would spin
on blocked toes, paint my feet bloody. I’d be carried away on a longboat,
a horse-drawn cart, hay wain, or curled in a home-crafted coracle.
I would sign myself small, with a borrowed name, in fine rain
from the North, touched with good fortune’s red from the far,
Far East, shot with silk, spun out in the West. But here, I must
write myself clear, flat as a Midlands vowel, glottal-stopped, tick
as I’m asked, I must paint myself funeral, statistical, invisible, other.
Simon Armitage was the competition’s judge. Susan says delightedly “Simon is, and always has been, one of my poetry heroes.” Nice to be recognized by one of your heroes. Well done, Susan!