Winner of the The Poetry Society's Stanza Poetry Competition on the theme of 'Hear', judged by Heidi Williamson. Heidi: "The quiet title ‘Confession’ draws us in to intimately witness a domestic scene with repercussions across the years. From the relevant surprise of its first line break, to the well-judged ambivalence of the final couplet, it’s extremely tightly written. What is heard, what is understood, and what is unsaid are all in play. Repeated phrases underscore a desperate insistence. The child-like, distracted repetition of pouring water from one mug to another is both innocent and devastating. The mother as ‘a strange-woman, child-woman, old-woman’ is astute, empathetic, and encompassing. In the final couplet, the child blames themself and/or realises the mother’s words are as wounding as the father’s leaving. ‘how silent I was’ draws power from the space around it. The poem interrogates what is felt and meant between people – often despite words. It says something out loud that has resonated with the writer for a long time, and now resonates strongly in me as the reader. It stayed with me." Lesley: "I am writing a series of poems under the working title of 'Tai Chi for Estranged Sisters', and am trying to answer questions such as : What could cause such estrangement? What would one sister never tell another, and why? Is silence ever protective? And then I remembered this event, which I'd never told anyone about."

Confession

by Lesley Ingram

I remember how sunny the day was
pretending to be, how bright it was in the kitchen

how the water I was pouring from the blue mug
to the red mug, to the blue mug, to the red mug

was whispering it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
how it dragged my sleeves

how the conversation I could hear was one-sided
how I understood every unloving word

how the front door closed with a rattle of glass
and how shivery I was as I watched

the watery shadow of my father disappearing
and my mother

a strange-woman, child-woman, old-woman left
on her knees and screaming

tell him to stay, he’ll stay if you
tell him, tell him, tell him,

how silent I was

how I went to curl on my bed
understanding waste of breath

how only I know this —
where the fault lies.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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