Category sponsored by ftwork
Not in ashes but in mud, it was,
where the River’s bones and bottle-bits chatter
and the washed-up rattling things,
London's stones and stories, roll with the rise of the tide.
Not nestled and cosy but silt-smeared below the cityline
under the fierce salt-glaze of a bellarmine eye
between bright sherds in mismatched colours
chipped shiva, pale madonna
offered to the holy river,
coins from the world’s corners and a brass bullet case
spent as wishes,
and three red tesserae.
There it lay, where busy’s an echo.
A golden egg
gleaming through the clay-filth of the river.
It fit in the palm of my hand
smooth and heavy
warm with the life coming.
The gold would feed my children for a year.
I buried it back, wrapped in a scrap of blue and yellow cloth
and a littered paper facemask,
shallow enough for a nest.
Reborn in fire
remade again in war
now it grows, a treasure in the mud of sickness and sorrow.
One day soon
the shining beak will tap the golden shell
and break its gilded walls.
Cramped wings will unfurl and stretch
and shake the thick grey silt
of plague and weariness from its feathers.
Though from the mud it is not of the mud.
It is the stories and the souls
and the colours and the hope
kept and told in dazzling rebirth
brilliant and terrible.
Listen. There it is.
That resilient tap.
The streets of Phoenix London will soon shine again.
Overall competition sponsor Almacantar
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