The earthquake by Becky Quaite

14th November 1997 at 00:00

Faults are our failures.

Great rivers of death.

Shaking bridges, social classes, All attacked in equal strength.

Plates attack plates, slipping over each other.

Waters rise and wash the dishes.

Shutters crack and cables tumble.

Roads crack open, railways crumble.

The 11th floor takes the lift.

Schools are rubbled, Lesson learnt.

Deeper footings and stronger limbs.

We wait again 'til next time.


This is a compressed and powerful poem that gets away with its big abstract concepts (what are rivers of death?) by using surprising, vivid concrete detail - the plates of the Earth become the dishes - and some suggestive sounds: schools are rubbled.

The bulging sack of poems I received over the summer is now diminished. So poems please, on any topic up to and including the end of the world, to The TES. Prizes for young poets and the teachers who send them in.

Becky Quaite, aged 13, receives Two's Company by Jackie Kay (Puffin). Submitted by John Secombe of Bishop Buffa School, West Sussex, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. For Poetry Society events, tel: 0171 240 2133. Send poems to Young Poet of the Week, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY.

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