ANN PILLING: Novelist and Poet

They have done the state some service
and they know it suckled my boys, pleasured my man,
now they have to go under the knife.

I’m being good to them I’ve bought
fine cottons pricked with little flowers
I bathe them in sweet oils and I no longer
sit like a hunchback cramming them from sight.

Why in my fat-girl days did I wear bags
to hide their succulent roundness? Why did I
mound them with cushions on our old settee?

In water they float out like lily pads
nippled with dark pink buds as this old river
creeps silently to its weir. Sad I’ve denied them, sad
how love, released, runs wild when it is too late.

Ann Pilling. Yorkshire Prize, Smith/Doorstep 2016.