Pruning the laurel


I'm very excited that one of my gardening poems won the 2021 Poems on the Move competition run by the Guernsey Literary Festival and judged by Kate Clanchy, who said: 

"Best of all, I like the unexpected: I had never read a poem about feminism and hedge trimming before, and in the end, that supplied our winner."

Pruning the laurel

Three points of contact with the tree, the way
my mother taught me: two feet, one hand, one free
to hold the saw. A smell of bay leaves now,
pale sawdust on my clothes like flour, the thump
as each branch hits the ground. I’m high enough
to see across five gardens: wheelbarrows
and washing lines, a football goal,
a Wendy house. My neighbour steps outside.
Where’s hubby then? he asks, his meaning clear.
Things must look different from down there. I guess
I seem quite small to him, my saw no bigger
than a bread knife. Not sure, I say, my eyes
on what I’m doing ­– one hand on the saw,
three points of contact – What did you want him for?



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