This poem is commended in the Carol Ann Duffy challenge on Young Poets Network (YPN). The challenge was co-written and judged by Duffy expert Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards, who said of this poem, "It’s harder than it seems to pay tribute to ‘whoever she was’. The ghostly spectre here of a ghostly spectre is beautifully re-imagined. Here is real love of the original poem. The section on the daughters’ braids at the end brought tears to my eyes."

the passing

by Georgie West

a response to ‘Whoever She Was’ by Carol Ann Duffy

they see me only in dark corners.
hurrying, they pass me. a hot flash of alarm
traces their face. delicate, like the warm trail-wake
of a finger on cheekbones. i am not golden locks.
i am anger and screaming and protest, presumably,
and i can taste nothing. i have no weight –
a passing shadow on the ladies’ pretty parasols.

i am cut from some different kind of cloth.
sitting with shoulders too wide, eyes hunted.
from my spread legs i pass abortive clots,
too-big knickers torn and red.
a clean virgin womb, mouthing, ‘please’.
birthing nothing. i am not a woman at all.
it’s a deception; i am no more than a
a wide-eyed child. stunted.

whoever she was, she is not watched
now she has passed.
they etched her epitaph into the braids
of their own daughters’ long blonde hair:
‘her children wait forever in that dark place, that cold place,
their unborn eyes puffing in the stillness, the blackness.’

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