Taking a look back at the prompts I posted in April, they seem to reflect my own emotional state during the month more than I realised.
There's a lot in there about hope and love, explicitly and implicitly, and these have been the two things upmost in my mind since Tony, my husband, cut his hand badly at the end of March, which meant a lot of time spent in French hospitals for micro-surgery and skin-grafts and the subsequent care.
Nearly six weeks later, the worse is over and while there'll be some permanent nerve damage, he'll be able to use the hand fully in time. Given he's an artist and musician, he's relieved to know that. As I am.
So reading your poems this month has been a delight for me, not only to have a break from the reality of life here, but to read the joy and deeply felt emotion in them.
My aplogies for digressing but my contributions felt a little underweight last month and I wanted to explain why.
And now onto April's Prize Poem. The prompt in response to the Merwin poem was a difficult one, I think. Being restrained by someone else's words can feel frustrating, but both Keith Wallis and Fran Hill managed to make another poem from Merwin's words.
It was a close call, but I've chosen Fran's poem because of the astounding way she manipulated the syntax and wove her own words between Merwin's lines and created some wonderfully effective linebreaks at the same time, e.g. the strainings of/ The heart, which, for me, increases the emotional impact with its hesitance after the preposition before reading on to the next line.
There's one suggestion I'd make with regard to the close of the poem though, and that would be to cut the last two words 'to weep'. The image of silk slipping from a hand is a powerful one, and I'd prefer to let that do its work, rather than direct the reader too explicitly.
You might remember that Fran won last month's Prize too, so many congratulations again, Fran. I'll place your prize in the post next week.
Here's Fran's poem for you to enjoy again.
They know so much more now. About
My longings, though, nothing. The strainings of
The heart. We are told: ‘But the world
Is for laughter.’ Yes, but the sullen clouds
Still seem to come, one at a time,
Hanging above my bent head. I think:
One day, one year, one season, and here
Will come floating blossoms for me. After all,
It is spring once more with its birds,
And I see that the tulips stand strong. I, though,
Nesting in the holes in the walls
Of my hiddenness, do not see that
It’s morning. Finding the first time
For joy – ah! – a long, long search for
Its light. Pretending not to move
In case it wants to come silently, as
Always. Beginning, as it goes
Slipping from my touch again, like silk, to weep.