Poems for Peace competition – 1st Prize: Heather Glover

Contributor/s : Heather Glover

Recorded on date : November 30, 2020

Between Waves

The nations lie awkwardly side by side:

A checkerboard in foreign countryside.

These hedgerows had their fragment of time. Now,

There’s a three-metre wide walking divide

Cuts up the forgive & unite & etcetera.

The German graves sink back, half veiled in leaves.

Sunlight like angel feathers falls across

Each stone alike, intimately. Each stone

Unlike the other, mostly: here, one’s mother

Emptied out her four-line summary of loss

On paper morphed by sea salt into stone.

Words like beloved. Only. Father, brother,

Son. Sometimes, where black ink bleeds

Or flesh in flashes reinvents itself

They drift known only to the Lord. Some names

Still echo, inert, across the sea

When poppies offer up the all-inclusive prayer-

Their names liveth forevermore. But God,

It seems, forgot those at the back,

Half veiled in leaves. A category alone

Floats unemotive on the unknown stones:

Ein deutscher Soldat.

This is where they drew the line between

Forgive and forget. Three metres of grass,

And language now a raft that floats on

Allied sea. These graves flagged up:

Three metres of grass and split

With speech, where silence ought to speak

Its transcendental peace.

In the reflective isolation of

A graveyard near Caen, the ranks of men

Forget themselves in soil; unruhig, unease,

Decay in unity. So now it’s true.

All stone is white. Bone, the whitest residue.

Heather Glover

17-18 years old

King Edward VI School, Stratford Upon-Avon

More from Awards and Prizes

Sky Arts RSL Writers Awards

Companions of Literature

RSL International Writers

Become a Member

Our Members are champions of literature. Their support makes our engagement work in schools and prisons possible and they enable us to celebrate literature in all its wonderful diversity. As a thank you, we give them all the joys of a literary festival and book club rolled into one, all year round.