Young Poet: Florence Grieve

Florence Grieve lives and works amongst the many hills of Bristol. She enjoys reading poetry as a way of seeing how other people experience the world. She likes to write on long train journeys and always with a mug of tea.

The Bristol hum

I’m looking for the secret portal
where the air quivers above the grass
because I want to get away from here
from the place where emotions
are berocca dissolved in the white wine
served with dinner, swallowed
with our plates of macaroni cheese
and small talk so small I fall
over the sides in drips and splashes

I’m looking for the secret portal
where the air quivers above the grass
the place where fathers grow like trees
toddlers are the branches, babies
are the leaves, whereas here
my lungs are interlacing twigs
home to nesting birds
who refuse to spread their wings

I’m looking for the secret portal
where the air quivers above the grass
it’s my only chance of leaving
with my thoughts inside my mind
which bounces on the pavement,
rests inside my palms, fizzes
from my curly hair, the hum
low above the air

My Friends Were Printed Not Born

I am the chin, the neck, the shoulders
living between the mouth and the hands
touching both, claimed by neither

I am the chin
when I use words plucked still warm
and pulsing from the dictionary
baptised by shaping ‘rose-e-den-drum’
from higher age reading lists
Still on the astro-turf I scrape my knees
fall when I chase
the ball of conversation

I am the shoulders
when I sign with a hesitant flow
that shows I grew up in a hearing home
and I’m watching, until the shapes
are burned on my eyelids
Still I can’t follow the Wimbledon doubles final
I sit on the edge of, tipping backwards
as I slide towards the chin

I am the neck when I’m neither
mouth, chin, shoulders, hands
when written words are only the baton
that feel like safe ground I can grasp

My radio aid named Roger

“Sir, please can you wear Roger?” I’d say
on the days my words felt strong enough
to be heard over the whooshing of 30 kids
voices reaching my hearing aid at once
Other days I’d drop Roger on the teacher’s desk
washing up liquid lathered in my palms
when embarrassment was rubbed together
I’d turn and try to reach the back of the classroom
but I had to sit at the front, I couldn’t hide
with a radio aid named Roger

The day the teacher wouldn’t wear Roger
he was every guide dog not allowed to board a plane
a wheelchair user without a ramp to enter the door
My face pricked with the injustice, my mind wrote letters
of complaint, I was a campaigner on the radio
listeners rallied to Roger’s cause, but my voice
in that moment was small. I was the kid, with a radio aid
named Roger