Ghost, by Claire Collison

Ghost, by London-based Claire Collison (@clairecollison1), was Commended by judge Rishi Dastidar in our 2021 Open Competition.

As Rishi wrote in his judge’s report, Claire’s poem pulls off the remarkable trick of saying something new about the dead, with both a simple yet timeless observation, and tangible descriptions of scents.


With thanks to Rocío Vázquez-Landázuri

When you told me how your freshly showered sister
smelled of Mozzarella—
and that memory wasn’t unpleasant as you described it;
I suppose a fresh, milky smell—
and how you smelt it again, visiting a medium
when you were the age of your now-dead sister

and the medium said it was because she couldn’t bear it,
you overtaking her—
and what a curious thing it is when the living
age, overtaking the dead, and all they can do
is emanate their signature scent—
white and creamy, floating in brine.

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