Young poet

17th March 2000 at 00:00
Daisy Hirst, 16, City and Islington sixth-form college, London


I wish they would stop jumping in me,

they are all so solid and dry

they stab me with their dives

and when they leave they steal me,

drip me on beige tiles,

take me home in their towels.

It's not that I don't want them here,

what bothers me is the way they leave

wrench themselves from me

when I've just got used to them.

The smaller ones sometimes have to be pulled out.

It's touching, the squealing, but the thrashing hurts.

I can tell when they feel a monster under them,

when they suddenly flip out of backstroke or sculling

and look down through me with bright wet eyes.

The truth is there is only me.

I could be monstrous myself,

I could swallow them, drag them down.

punish them for the sticking plasters.

But even then they wouldn't stay.

At night as the big black Speedo clock ticks

I lie awake under my plastic blanket

so still and flat I could be dead

until I'm rippled, goose-pimpled by the air


Peter Sansom, TES Friday's guest poetry critic, writes: I felt confident about this poem from the second line: witty to say the opposite of water so concisely (and inded for a pool to think of saying it). By line four it was clear this was a real poem, one of those poems that "please by a fine excess", as Keats would say. The way the pool considers she's being stolen, for instance, little by little, every time anyone gets out. That idea, of people leaving, is what seems to actuate the piece, so that the it is not just a collection of observations, but has an underlife. Line nine, for instance, is just right, how we "wrench" ourselves from water, though it's the water that feels the wrenching. Writing so vividly about what it's like to be a pool, Daisy Hirst tells us about being a person, a person who can imagine what it is to be water.

Daisy Hirst receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Annie Griffiths. Peter Sansom has published the handbook, Writing Poems, with Bloodaxe. His third Carcanet collection, partly about his Poetry Society Marks and Spencer residency, is published this year. Please send poems, not more than 20 lines, to Young Poet, TESFriday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BXThe TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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