Cardiff International Poetry Competition
Runner Up - Kathryn Simmonds
Kathryn Simmonds was born in Hertfordshire in 1972. Her poetry collection Sunday at the Skin Launderette (2008) is published by Seren, and her short stories have appeared in magazines and been broadcast on Radio 4. Kathryn lives in London with her husband and daughter.
The San Michele Cemetery
We never thought to find the dead stacked up
in marble high-rises –
nor these photographs,
a handsome man in his forties
laughing into another year.
Six weeks –
too soon to count you among the living.
One in five is lost, they say,
some say one in four.
September and the sky is freshly painted. Cyprus
scents the air.
Stravinsky and Diagalev are here, graves strewn
with offerings, not only flowers, but bread rings, fancy candies
melting in the heat.
Ezra Pound eludes us.
A fellow tourist lifts his shades, points out
Joseph Brodsky at whose grave is fixed a letterbox.
Too soon, and yet among the dead we play
the naming game.
The hundred-year-old little girls
stare poker-faced beneath their bows.
My arms begin to burn.
I give up on Ezra Pound and lay my hand
on your plot instead: you buried alive
in your swirl of limbo.
I am waiting to row out on the nausea that must be coming –
like seasickness, they say.
From the quayside, Venice is a dot.
We buy unfamiliar chocolate from a snack machine.
I remember the apparition of faces in the crowd,
those petals forming
and falling and forming. And I ask you to live.