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Young poet

London, five p.m., a Friday, Valentine's Day

And I'm following your heart

Although I know it's cold, detached, and lost to us,

I cannot let it go.

Sheeting rain.

The mirror reflected our life together, fractured

By the scornful screech of wheels,

And shards of gleaming glass

Exploded from deep within the arteries of the car.

They say it's only seven years' bad luck - how wrong they are.

Outside the hospital my search is stopped,

abruptly, frozen

Like a rose dipped in liquid nitrogen.

I witness your heart return, concealed,

Murmuring reassuringly in someone else,

Get into their car and drive off.

Friends have scorned my anomie,

Think this 'phase' of grief won't last.

But I will continue following ... February the


What better day to look after my husband's heart?

Laura Harris, 15,The Queen's school, Chester

"Literature", says the novelist Milan Kundera, "is a place 'where no one owns the truth and everyone has the right to be understood'." In this ambitious poem, "Donor", we can see Laura struggling to make sense of things - not claiming to know the answers but energetically using this rare space poetry provides to explore, with the reader, what it's like to feel love; and allowing herself the luxury of assuming her reader knows, with Kundera, that "everyone has a right to be understood".

The poem is driven by a pained but determined energy - the rain "sheeting", the mirror "fractured", the wheels of the car (and destiny?) "scornful" and screeching. But the heart of the poem unnerves with a sudden stillness, "frozen like a rose dipped in liquid nitrogen". Its mood of impassioned puzzlement continues to the poem's sad last words; "my husband's heart".

PS. "Norma is as selfless as I am, Ron" is a palindrome. And here is Lord Palmerston's infamous dictation: "It is disagreeable to witness the embarrassment of a harassed pedlar gauging the symmetry of a peeled potato." Try that on your poor students.

Selima Hill Laura Harris receives Emergency Kit: poems for strange times, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Karen Roden. Selima Hill, TESguest poet for the current term, won this year's Whitbread poetry prize for Bunny

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