Weeds grow where they want to; not where they're told to...


Lydia Unsworth


Outright winner of the 2018 erbacce-prize for poetry from close to Six Thousand submissions world-wide


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Extract from Section 'Before':




Lying to people about how long there is left. The path to immortality is lined with low fringes and moody photography studios. My body doesn’t quite feel like my body, but I continue to work with it. Sitting through meetings, strategically planning. Feet slip in loose trainers that cannot be tightened. It isn’t the way –


to bend that far for anything. I touch my extremities. Hamstrings remind me of how best to navigate space. I pull on my own toe and hope for progress. I spread my bum cheeks apart on the ground: one side, two sides. Learning to sit.


Vary your position: take a stance for once. Strike a bold and uninterpretable gesture during your attempts to stand and stretch. There never was very long left but now you miss the wreckage – the rusting panels, the flaked-off features of the thing at the front of the ship that used to be a face. I raise my eyes in disappointment at the cameras: wide-range lenses, open-minded. I cannot run far enough to find a hill to hide behind for the squat.


It will be here in the city, among the sofas we slip outside during the night to play their own disappearing act. It will be here, among the cardboard boxes that look like they might be treasure but are actually, as suspected, nothing. Boxes that only ever held hairdryers and hair straighteners and electronic shavers and night-lights that change colour after a certain number of minutes and cables that we needed to replace other cables and translucent plastic boxes which were used to store spare cables in and coffee machines.


I stand with my legs hip-width apart, feet flat on the ground, toes pointing forward, and I fall. First to my hands, remembering to keep my spine aligned, and then to my knees.