Once upon a time

there was a word
that was sick of its meaning
the way it was said and said
like a wet cloth carelessly slapping a table.
What a tearjerker of a word it was.
It barely knew what it meant anymore
like it had collapsed from over-usage.
Poor old thing
who more than any other word
felt it had to be what it was
really only supposed to be about.
Why carry on
when they said it who didn’t mean it
when they meant it who didn’t say it.
It all made the word feel pretty existential about itself.
Maybe if it could stop meaning
the feeling would be set free!
But in the end it knew
that whatever it was
was made in the moment
by those who found themselves there
who found the word wanting
only to prove itself
in the silent moving air.



Greta Stoddart’s three books have won or been shortlisted for prizes such as the Geoffrey Faber, Forward and Costa. A recent radio poem Who’s there? was BBC Pick of the Week and shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award.  Her fourth book Fool will be published by Bloodaxe in September 2022.