The Window

after Marie Howe

Once in a lifetime, you will gesture
at an open window, tell the one who
detests the queerness in you that dead
daughters do not disappoint, free your
sore knees from inching towards a kind
of reprieve, declare yourself genderless
as hawk or sparrow: an encumbered body
let loose from its cage. You will refuse
your mother’s rage, her spit, her tongue
heavy like the heaviest of stones. Her
anger is like the sun, which is like love,
which is the easiest thing, even on the
hardest of days. You will linger, knowing
that this standing before an open window
is what the living do: that they sometimes
reconsider at the slightest touch of grace.


© Mary Jean Chan, from The National Poetry Competition/The Poetry Society.

‘The Window’ was shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019 and features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2020  (Bookmark Content, £9.99) and Mary’s collection Flèche (Faber, 2019).

With kind permission of the poet