It wasn't anything like the way she said by Rosie Stewart

22nd June 2001 at 01:00
Rosie Stewart, 15, South Hunsley school, North Ferriby, East Yorkshire


It wasn't anything like the way she said.

I hadn't a clue what was going on.

Why on earth would I want to wear the lipstick?

It was bright red, for God's sake!

My sister sat beside me.

On the outside she was innocent,

But inside we both knew, as guilty

As a fox in the hen shed.

My mother held up the lipstick:

The remains of its glory,

Its gold case shattered into a hundred pieces.

It was blunted as Picasso's pencil.

Guilt bloated my sister,

I was afraid she would explode,

Yet the blame was still on me.

It wasn't anything like the way she said.

Why would I wear that lipstick?

Poetry sheds light on the ordinary, can transform everyday events, places or objects by a different way of looking. In Rosie Stewart's poem, a lipstick, "its gold case shattered into a hundred pieces", is at the centre of a childhood drama between two sisters and their angry mother. Guilt and blame burn under the surface of the poem's colloquial lines, and the lipstick acquires a strange pwer - blunted as Picasso's pencil. The poem reveals the difference between the innocent and the guilty, and is perceptive about things not always being what they seem. The sister's outward innocence is contrasted with her internal guilt - "guilty as a fox in a hen shed". Rosie Stewart shows in her poem that she understands the workings of memory, how strong feelings can settle around place or object and preserve them in the mind.

Rosie Stewart receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Kathryn Mawson. Jackie Kayis the TES guest poetry critic for the current term. Her most recent collection of poetry for children, The Frog who Dreamed she was an Opera Singer, won the Signal Award. A new collection of short stories, Trout Friday, is due to be published next year by Picador. Please send poems, preferably no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email: The TESBook of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered on 0145 617370. A set of posters costs pound;3.99

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