Poems for Peace competition – Highly Commended: Jenny O’Gorman

Contributor/s : Jenny O’Gorman

Recorded on date : November 30, 2020


My to-be mother is sad, as if she were

Waiting on a sandy coast of some vast

Firth of the tide’s tug, & precious

Grains were slipping through her fingers

Cupped around her unborn child,

Never suspecting her baby

Would fall in blood drenched lands

Of war

Or that his life would be a bubbling brook

Until, in a damp outcrop it would come to a glottal


I will carry you my little one

In our boat and across the loch

Through the dancing light of herring below

Letting you know that leading you into this world;

Are the song of a blackbird, the hoofprints of a deer

Both hurrying to meet your newly planted day so near.

You’re an adult now, but barely, I still sit you on the bone

Of my hip, balancing your body with the curl

Of my waist; a tree forked at the base,

Wanting the war won but for you to death defy

I plead with the creatures of war not to howl, sting and cry

Or spiral out of the soil like serpents set to strike

Their twisted, poisoned heads. Armies of old

Are scrawled in their hissing tongues

Like ferns chilled by cemetery mist.

I will watch in horror as conflict loiters against the pale city walls

Set to scatter, maul, burn & blow my child to bits.

Instead of sleep you are tensed low

On a blood defiled bank starting in fright at only gentle

Frogs which bellow like grenades across the valley.

The blackbird & deer; your mum and dad

Are watching close by, bleeding legs like glossy blackberry clots,

We imagine with rebirth what your life would be

Without this,

The crash of our son’s body bringing us back to earth.

Peace needs no goodbye

We wanted you to grow old and carry in a replete

Belly the warm weight of full life’s rain, so your dreams

Could have ebbed and flowed.

Jenny O’Gorman

15 years old

George Watsons College, Edinburgh

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