NaPoWriMo Day 1: The World’s Best Boat Race

So, as you may know, poetry lovers, April is National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo. I’ve done it two years in a row now, and I’m coming into my third year on this blog. There are prompts on and sometimes I’ll be following them, other times not. I like this month a lot, it makes me write when I wouldn’t normally, and here is my first effort. It’s called The World’s Best Boat Race. 

In the photograph you were both
In your early twenties. I’ll meet you
Just short of two years and everything
Will change. You’re looking the most 
Awake I have ever seen you; awake
And bright as the river refracts in your
Blonde hair, awake, your whole body
Burning, your whole body alive, and 
You’re laughing because you’d just 
Realised there’s nothing very challenging
About the Middlesex bend, not like
The way the water swirls down into a
Plughole after you’ve spat the toothpaste
Into the basin. It’s 2003, and Oxford won,
By just one foot. 

“Isis crew is still real crew” says the boy
Sitting next to you. In this scene he’s 
Caught laughing as you rib him for not 
Getting to row. In 9 years time he’ll see 
This photo, and try to take his own life.
But this was the world’s best boat race, 
And you’re smiling, laughing, your eyes
And mouth beam wide to prove the love
You have for the rower at your side; a 
Snapshot from a time when he just
Didn’t know it yet. 

You’re the most handsome you’ve ever been
When in 8 years you hold my hand on the
Drive home, me rooting around in the glovebox
Looking for something, anything, to distract 
Ourselves because we’re trying not to think
About the news of your survival rate, how
Numbers now dictate the weeks and days
Until you have to go. The photograph is in
There and you were once healthy and young, and now
You call that man your boyfriend, and 

He’ll never be as sad as when he calls me
From the ward, and it’s not one of your tricks
After all, like it could well have been, a joke
So black and glistening it could only
Have come from you.

In the photograph, you were both
In your early twenties. Eventually we all
Must learn this stretch of grief still keeps
Us all afloat, and death – if they are bad, or good
Is what propels us to the finish line, and 
The deepness of the Thames, being grey and thick, 
And coolly unaccountable, is the place today where
I watch them move apart
Gliding across
Like it was easy
Like it comes naturally to them
Like they’ve never lost a thing, and 
Like they’ve got everything to play for. 


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