5 May, 2014Issue 25.1Creative WritingOriginal Poetry

Email This Article Print This Article

Poetry Competition 2014 Winner

Haf Davies


The wheelbarrow was my earliest form of transport;
a ripe little radish sprouting from wet wellies,
pushed along the allotment paths
by Terrys, Jerrys, Erics, and you.
My only speech a language you didn’t understand,
except for rhandir – Welsh for ‘shared land’.

At two and a half I left the coal tips and Italian caffs
for Cardiff’s docks and delicatessens.
My vowels narrowed with the horizons
and we have a new allotment now,
in a shitty bit of the inner-city.
Preferring concrete to compost, I rarely visit,
but every Sunday morning you’d join the Taf,
and run the river 10 miles south
to water the plants.
Your gardening clothes are still in the shed you built,
the wax peeling off your Barbour like dead skin.

It’s been 17 years since I was filthy.
There have been ink-stains, coffee-stains, wine-stains, bruises,
but it’s been 17 years since I was soiled.
I don’t know if it was guilt, duty, or a salmon’s instinct,
but this Sunday, I went with Mam to pull potatoes.
Wearing your old gardening boots and hoping
for a lack of worms, slugs, or any other insect, I dug.
With dirt under my fingernails,
I shared in your communion, my commemoration:
peas eaten like sweets and a bottle of beer.


Haf Davies is the winner of the 2014 Oxonian Review Poetry Competition. She is reading English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford.