Plymouth’s Mayflower 400 Young City Laureate pens special poem for anniversary

Sep 08, 2020

A special poem was commissioned from the Mayflower 400 Plymouth Young City Laureate as part of the commemoration year.

Holly Peters was announced as the winner of the award in November 2019, when she was presented with her prize at a reception given by the then Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Cllr Richard Ball.

The Mayflower 400 Plymouth Young City Laureate competition was run in partnership with Literature Works and Plymouth City Council. It was open for any young person between 14 and 19 who lives, works or goes to school or college in Plymouth.

They had to submit samples of their creative writing, one piece of which had to be a poem or prose inspired by the theme of Plymouth and its history.

Holly wrote this wonderful poem titled 'Mother Mayflower' to read out at the special Mayflower 400 anniversary event on 16 September.

Holly Peters

Mother Mayflower

I.

My joints creak.

Born with stars in my eyes.

Not a maiden voyage; a mother of pilgrims.

They fill my belly,

Tugging my sails taut like skin

pulled over the bones of my hands.

I coo the sailors to sleep,

Whispering as their mothers would’ve done,

Balancing on the sea.

II.

A blossom of the summer is planted

Between the planks of my stern,

Where my heart beats –

You’ll hear it in the caw of the birds,

The ripple of the waves –

And although there is no soil,

And although summer has extinguished,

Flowers of may still sprout.

The quiver of the leaves and the sway of the stars

Tug on the wheel with a silver web like

The spit between two blades of grass,

And guide our way.

III.

The ocean chugs beneath my dancing feet,

Splashing against my sides in the twists and turns of a tango,

Ankles snapping under the weight.

Sailors count the rising suns, whilst

I watch the sparkling silver as they sleep

Sheltering their dreams of an unknown world

And offer an ear as they chant their prayers.

Prayers that don’t have to hide.

IV.

We sail through where the sky meets the sea,

In inky blues and gaze as the diamonds skitter

Along the surface.

We outrun storm clouds, chasing the sunset

And all it promises: fresh starts and a sun that’ll

Rise in the morning.

We face spiteful autumn winds

that nearly knock me off my feet,

But I hold my children close.

V.

After days that smudge into weeks,

My anchor sinks through the sapphire,

Winking at secrets lurking at the bottom of the world.

Grounded, keeping them steady

With aching, breaking bones.

Stepping out of the shadows,

Fleeing from me,

Watching them take their first steps –

Sea legs wobbling on solid ground.

Holly Peters, Mayflower Plymouth Young City Laureate

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