Guest Poem by Joan McGavin

Joan McGavin has degrees in English from Edinburgh University, a Master’s from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southampton (2020). She has two poetry collections from Oversteps Books: Flannelgraphs (2014) and Passing Arcadia Close (2017). She was a Hawthornden Fellow in 2012 and in 2014 was Hampshire Poet. She has been a trustee of the Winchester Poetry Festival, and taught Creative Writing at the University of Winchester until 2016 before embarking on Ph.D. research.

The Look

I’m thinking of the look a woman gave
as the mudslide rushed towards her
and she turned her face
upwards and threw
her baby

I’m thinking what the last person
who saw her saw in her face.
No photo fixes it.
No artist had time
to paint that look.

Rescuers would comment
not on the look –
gone down
under the rearranged earth.

They spoke of a gesture:
all they could say was
she ‘seemed like she was
lifting something’.