White's what you want:
a house, a lake holding the pale sky
steady for your midnight swim,
your feet ghosting through a garden
so long and dark that you forget it's yours.
It's too late.
It's your commedia dell'arte smile
as you sip reception wine and tell the artist
how you love but can't afford
her 5' by 4': the White on White.
White must go on:
not as in the radiance of eternity,
but as towels kept separate for guests,
voile curtains blurring the yard's bricks
and the dustbin to ethereal.
It's the high ground:
huddling with friends in last year's jackets,
watching snow drift across the rocks
and playing Five Stones with your principles
until your fingertips turn white.
White is what you're not supposed
to write: the scar on his long thigh,
gored by a fence at the age of five,
where you sometimes lay your head
and show him, slowly, you are grateful.
Joan Hewitt writes:
I live in Tynemouth and teach English as a Foreign Language at Northumbria University. There's an Irish saying that when God invented time, he made plenty of it. It just doesn't feel like that... Poems are my way of slowing down and entering into necessary states. As I write this, I'm in a state of mild shock - just heard that two poems of mine will appear in a forthcoming book of poems and essays published by Rodopi. The working title is The Body and the Book: Language of the Sensual Muse from Antiquity to (Post) Modernity. Er. I'm worried if my little poems can survive.
This poem, White, won third place in the 2005 Kent and Sussex Open poetry competition, with another poem being placed fourth in the same comp in 2007. I received the 2003 Northern Promise Poetry award from New Writing North and came second in the Ledbury poetry competition that year. In 2004, I got a Distinction in the MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle university. I have also been placed in the Mslexia International competition 2004, Langham's Bookshops Competition 2005 and the 2004 Southport Open poetry competition.
All that entering competitions (there were others!) to prove myself to myself went on far too long: it tied poems up and stopped me from reaching a wider audience in magazines. I've published in a few but not enough. Therein lies a cautionary tale.
My first collection Missing the Eclipse is at last being published - by Cinnamon Press, May 2008. It's a relief. Thank you, Cinnamon.
For news of what Joan did next, read her subsequent Poem of the Month, Vernal Song.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
White © 2007 Joan Hewitt: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.
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This page last updated 25th June 2007