18 June 2019
Woldingham's Head Girl, Sarah Adegbite, has recently won two poetry competitions: The Lancaster Writing Award for Poetry and the Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference (CISC) Senior Poetry Competition.
Sarah’s poem On Asking My Mother Who Came Before Me garnered this year’s award from the University of Lancaster’s Department of English Literature and Creative Writing. This category was judged by Professor Paul Farley, prize-winning poet, writer, broadcaster and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, who commented: “The poem seems to cohere around the speaker’s (and the reader’s) grasp of what’s happened; the diction feels plainspoken but urgent as difficult memories are framed in a public, formal space; the details are raw and exact, and as I re-read it, as well as holding its charge it also hinted towards some new angle or facet, and seemed to grow bigger than the sum of its parts.”
Eden’s Gardener won Sarah first prize in the CISC senior poetry competition. CISC General Secretary, Maureen Glackin, said that her entry "stood out" and a fellow judge, who is a writer, liked the "nature of the poem as an extended metaphor, using the ideas of seeds and natural growth in the garden to dramatise God's presence in the world. The natural order of birth, death and rebirth reflects the poet’s journey from doubt into hope."
one day, when the garden of my mind unravels its knots – it will
trace a path back to Eden. there, on the doorstep of dominion –
I will hold dark doubt up to the light. I will sweat out all the things
my bullet-riddled mind could not believe: why, when I drink from
His spring of moonbeam streams, all I’m left with are remnants of fear.
they cling, encrusted. forlorn at the bottom of a cup that curves like a palm.
why, when I hear the voices of men who crawl beyond the trodden path,
my heart leaps up into my mouth and beats out a rhythm of horror.
why wasps still sting small children, why our minds make sacrifices
on the altar of Sodom and Gomorrah, and store up their harvest of terror.
why, when His name is written on the palms of my hands – I am still up
to my elbows in doubt. why, when night’s jacket muffles the bitter-root
gossip of day, soil rots inside my head. unsprouted seeds form the
dots of a thousand thuribles of question marks. why, suddenly, one day,
Jehovah’s whisper comes like a breeze. his persistence a rush through
the lazy chatter of bees. why, when I squint in the distance and see
Him come forth, a thing like hope ties its noose around my neck.
He plucks weeds from their ordered rows of uncertainty.
He plants new seeds, like a prophet out of Eden.
On Asking My Mother Who Came Before Me
we buried her in ealing cemetery, you said.
where the crocuses grow long, and thin –
needles stitching up bloody mouths – each cold
stigma exposed. i spy with my little eye a cervix
widening its jaw, yawning to gape and bare
mirrored teeth. a gush of water, hush? don’t
cry here (or there), not now – you’ll flood the
place. she arrived soon after, the size of a hand. bruised fingers
pumped her chest, tried to pump the life back into her.
only in the end, you were both left breathless.
how you cried in the shower. salt tears and sun-rain
breast milk laced with wine, chunks of it – a slow
cocktail of grief. bittersweet. i burst out crying, right there
in the middle of the restaurant. i don’t even know why
i’m the one crying. we walk away. tiptoeing around the
silence like it’s a sleeping child. when we drive back to the hotel,
there will be one more person in the car:
you me and her ghost,
hovering at the window