Cardiff International Poetry Competition
Runner Up - Jo Hemmant
Jo Hemmant lives in rural Kent with her husband and two sons. In late 2010 she founded Pindrop Press, a boutique poetry press that has published ten titles to date. Her own poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines and won prizes in various competitions. Her first collection, The Light Knows Tricks, is forthcoming from Doire Press in early 2013.
The Portreeve's House, East Street
The ghosts of port wardens are assessing, repossessing
our creaking Tudor home. In Flemish cloth
and Mandarin silks that sailed into port on caravels,
they stalk the worn oak boards, pausing to count
the knots in Persian rugs, finger fabrics,
note the range and clarity of colours, the skill.
In the pantry they take inventories, admire the utility of tins,
scrutinise labels, modern ingredients conundrums
they cannot solve. Spices run through their fists like time,
perfuming every room. They catalogue wines, marvel
at the New World, calculate taxes, voices clear as a radio.
We find tea leaves in mounds on the kitchen scales,
hand-written levies tucked in the tops like flags.
When visitors call, practiced hands slide into pockets,
palm unfamiliar coins, dismiss notes, exact their due.
What's locked or closed must be divulged – drawers
turned out, letters read, conversations attended to.
We pretend that the scratch of nibs in ledgers is mice,
their interest in us an infestation in the timbers;
ignore movements out the corners of our eyes