Elegy for two placentas, by Oxfordshire poet Vanessa Lampert (@nessalampert) was awarded Second Prize in our 2021 Open Poetry Competition, by the judge Rishi Dastidar.
This is what Rishi had to say about Vanessa’s poem:
The second prize goes to ‘Elegy for two placentas’ by Vanessa Lampert, attention grabbing from its title – I can’t ever recall seeing a hymn to the body part. The poem makes its case elegantly, with grace (“Made to be lost / when your work was done”), wit (“I should have said thank you, / though you could not have pleased me then.”) and a keen sense of the humdrum strangeness that bodies are: “Oh unlovely fate of the unlovely. Oh strange trees / of purple flesh and red.”, before resolving to an image that is a prayer of a quiet, intense loveliness, the ‘humble female servants.” This is poem as magic spell, efficient in conveying wonder and rapture, reminding you that the every day is actually quite special.
Elegy for two placentas
You were the image of one another.
Made of me, by me, two years apart,
entirely unearned. Made not for me,
in this body’s hidden wet, no thought of mine
was required. No gesture of praise
did I offer the two of you, that came through me
into the dry lit world. Made to be lost
when your work was done. Cast into light,
when I was blind to the miracle,
that circled back to give itself once more,
and found me yet still blind. Forgive me
for how it was, when the world was only baby,
and baby again. My only boy, my girl,
the world and every star. I swear, even the sun
seemed mine when you were all and softly done.
I was lost to him, and after lost to her.
How unpresuming you were.
Slipped into the room after they had come.
Quiet finale, no commentary nor ceremony.
I should have said thank you,
though you could not have pleased me then.
Oh unlovely fate of the unlovely. Oh strange trees
of purple flesh and red. Oh trees
that bore a single human fruit.
I know someone held you, someone else
the other of you, two years on.
I know they found you both complete and spent.
I had no questions. My body merely gave me
what I wished for. I didn’t want to eat you
or bury you beneath a moon laden with light.
I wanted to forget you, humble female servants.
Loyal other mothers that came from dark.