Distracting myself, waiting for news,
I walked until I saw this white cluster
of holly growing at the base of a tree,
the stems yellowed, the angled clutch
of leaves like a bleached coral, a pale
antler, almost medieval, like a relic
unearthing in the gloom of the wood.
Later, still the baby would not latch,
and I came back to this holly, unhardened
by the sun, unable to turn the light
into strength. May it keep its whiteness,
may it never learn the use of spikes;
or, in time, when a crown is made of it,
may the people approach one by one
to witness how a fragile thing is raised.
‘Ilex’ won 1st Prize in the 2017 Resurgence Poetry Prize.
Seán Hewitt was born in 1990 and read English at the University of Cambridge, where he received his college’s Emily Davies and Lilias Sophia Ashworth Hallett scholarships and twice received the Charity Reeves Prize in English. In 2014, he was awarded Arts Council England funding for a series of poems, and in 2015 was selected as one of the Poetry Trust’s Aldeburgh Eight. He won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2016 and has just completed a Ph.D. at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool.