Poetry competition 2012 - runners up

Runners up, adult category

Of all the excellent entries in the adult category of Gardeners’ World Magazine 2012 poetry competition, the judges made the following selection of six runners up.

Runners up

Autumn - even if it rains
by Michaela Edridge, West Sussex

Even if it rains all day
I will talk with songs in my mouth
and see with sunshine eyes. I go with dogs into the forest,
taste pine on my tongue, smell the rich loam-earth following rabbit trails.
Even if it rains all day I will go - to see you dance the forest,
chase tree-running squirrels, quiver at fresh-cleaned wounds
of badger holes decorated with claw-mark tracery.
I - with the comfort of words in my brain, thinking new meanings
and seeing in coloured dreams - will let the water hold my skin,
encourage puddles to splash my eyes and pure rivers flow through me.
And I will look at death without fear; Crunched acorns
and mouldering chestnuts wet under long brown leaves;
surprised shrew dead by mistake trying to cross the fox-path;
a fallen tree, alive but crippled, growing young shoots on twisted body.
And underneath the path networks of twining roots,
rabbit estates and badger communes -earth-carpeted and warm.
I will cry with the pleasure of sharing Water Forest Animals
Talk with songs in my mouth
even if it rains all day.

Full circle
by Tracy Davidson, Warwickshire

In early spring you watch me do the planting.
You issue directions though the patio window
and I arrange the pots and beds just so,
my colour-blind eyes trusting your judgement.

In summer we sit on our garden bench
admiring the roses and peonies,
though by now you can no longer smell
the sweet scent of jasmine and mimosa.

In autumn I rake crumpled leaves as you watch
squirrels hide their nuts below fading blooms.
We leave the berries to the birds, offload apples
on the stream of nurses who come and go.

In winter your chrysanthemums wither,
bare branches reach up to snow-heavy skies.
I watch the white blanket fall as you lay in bed
by the window, your cold hand getting colder.

Another spring, and with the first tulip
once more I find myself following
your carefully thought out directions.
I scatter your ashes amid new bulbs.

The Gardener
For Jean
by Roy Hinks, Hants

So, in a wild place, you saw a wasteland,
A scramble of briar, a barbed wire of thorns
Which lacerate wrists and the naked hand
That dares to take hold: and that nettle that scorns
With blistering tongue: and that fetid scent
Of aggression in an adolescent
Wilderness: and unnamed things deep-rooted
In the after-rubble of a rubbled site
Where nothing had survived but what had bled.
But now this garden – grown where once mob weeds
Rampaged, where no seasons soothed. Now your light
From lilies soften shade: nearby, new seeds
Are shocked into being, the scion grows:
Now, in ground once sterile, your spreading rose.

by Jan Rumsey, Cumbria

A shock of soft white hair crowns
Her face, nut-brown from June sunshine.
Eyes sparkling with frost light,
She gleams as she moves along the path,
Wild flowers and cultivated plants
Rubbing shoulders in the perfect society of her garden.

Face ploughed with the ninety-four years of her life,
She bends to the soil, gnarled fork and fingers cramming
Old seeds, dried-up roots, discarded stems
Into over-crowded beds:
Green-fingered, everything grows strong.
And in her garden, she found a space and planted us,
Allowed us to grow as we would,
Let us jostle for space,
And we have thrived.

by Elaine Waterhouse, Hertfordshire

Together, we grew.

As trees rained helicopters, we planted. Covered, waited
Until a germ of life took root,
Then unfurled skyward, grasping greedily,
Like your tiny hand.

While ladybirds clustered, we protected.
Sheltered under glass and swaddled in white fleeces.
Silent, like you, yet secretly
A heartbeat pumped next to mine.

Watched by twig-moustached birds, we nurtured.
You listened as I described the pricking out, the gossamer tangle of roots
For your unseeing eyes. Both longing for the day - not long now -
We would meet face to face.

Vain labours; you never saw the
Cruel abundant blooms defying my neglect, nor
Vile fat fruits sapping the life you were denied.
My grief pruned hard.

Ten years on, I still plant, protect, nurture
And still I talk to you,
Hoping, somehow, you hear.

Winter is
by Joyce Reed, Cheshire

the jointache of another washed-up year,
the branches bared for sacrifice,
a flittering of sparrows by the ivy wall;
wellington pools in porches
and the mucus mud of drowned days
swimming through your dreams;
the melancholy clash
of practice ringers
tormenting brooding, secret yews.

Yet we are hardwired to hope.
Uncertain snowdrops,
then the irises flagging up frogspawn days
could persuade us of better things.

Read more winning poems

Winners - adult category

Winners - children 10 and under category

Winners - children 11-14 category

Winners - children 15-17 category