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In 2015, the recipient of the Betjeman Poetry Prize, Lucy Arnold-Forster (13) was named the inaugural St Pancras Laureate. As part of her role, Lucy has been commissioned to write three poems. The first is based on the theme of Christmas at St Pancras International and was inspired by a visit to the station in the festive season. Founded in 2006 to mark his centenary birthday, the Betjeman Poetry Prize attracts around 3,000 entries per year from children across the UK. The competition aims to foster creativity in young people while discovering and encouraging the next generation of British poets.

By Lucy Arnold-Forster, St Pancras Laureate 2015–16

hold that thought
don't let it go
don't
watch your thoughts unfold
spiralling
twisting
light cartwheeling
off its edges
as your grasp on
pythagorean theorum
becomes
the smell of the darkness when
the stars come out
and you're lying
on the rooftop patio
with your best friend
watching the sky and
talking
mindlessly-
don't let it slip through your fingers
and dance on the tabletop
and twist like a fairy inside
a barbershop pole
like ribbons flung into the wind
as (thoughts dancing)
your opinion on brexit backflips;
becomes
the wind in your eyes
and your hair
and the feeling in your gut
when you cry because you're happy
(the feeling that you get
when someone tells you what you mean to them)
(the feeling like everything matters)-
don't throw your thoughts into the wind
watch them blossom and belch a sandstorm
and carve coral reefs
in your consciousness
(thought
of train
of thought
spiralling
into endless edges)
as the weather forecast for next week
rolls over and becomes
the way the sunrise
leaks between windowpanes
fills your house
with orange treacle
and warmth
the smell of dawn snapping
over the hill
dew settling
on the grass
the feeling of it
on your fingertips
the taste of oxygen
don't let it go;
don't-
don't-
hold that thought-

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

By Lucy Arnold-Forster, St Pancras Laureate 2015–16

I never thought
My home would be a memory
An echo of a thought,
An imprint of
Some childhood experience.
I never thought
That vivid picture
Of the dirty vinyl floor,
The fluffy white rug,
The blue door,
Would fade away,
Replaced by some new house,
A house with blue carpets
And white doors.
I never thought
My home,
The postage-stamp garden,
The, thick, smiling plants
And my plastic watering can,
Would become mere thoughts,
Floating in forgotten regions of my mind.
I never thought
The little house
With rusty hinges
And broken cupboards,
Would become a fantasy,
A lost dream of mine.
I never thought, my love,
My heart’s dwelling,
The place I always longed to be,
The door I always passed into comfort,
The house I always felt at home,
I would never tread again.
Some say,
Moving house.
I say,
Leaving Home.

The Eyes of a Child

By Lucy Arnold-Forster, St Pancras Laureate 2015–16

Her eyes are portals
To a world where all
Anyone does is
Sit and stare
And wonder.
Everything glimmers
The tiled floor is a maze
Holding hands and
Laughing
The way jigsaw puzzles do.
The rumble
Of the train
Is like the roar
Of a monster
Who wants to go
Home.
Even the adverts
Peeling off the walls
Coated with grime
Seem to jump off the walls
To shake her hand.
'Don't touch,' snaps her mother,
Pulling her hand away,
'That's dirty.'
She stumbles forward
Her hand clasped in her mother's
But everything is calling out to her
She wants to stop
And inhale the scent of the station
Drink in every last detail
As she steps out of the tunnel
The ceiling exhales
And expands
And arches its back
The room is no longer a room
But a cavernous expanse
Where the ceiling extends beyond
The sky
She stumbles forward
The wall sweeps away

The Christmas tree stretches
Shattering the sky
Reaching beyond the realms of realityShe is awestruck

Toys fill her vision
Encased in magic, they
Smile at her
Reaching out to shake her hand

And up
In the heavens
Mickey gives a sly wink
He is looking straight at her when
Diamonds like snowflakes
Explode from the sky
And float,
Each one a fairy in her eyes,
Falling towards her
With the grace
Of a thousand stars.

And in that moment
She is blind to all evil
In the world
All the tears she's shed
All the sulks she's had
Fall away
And in that moment
She is overwhelmed
By the power
Of wonder.

A commuter
In a natty suit
Strides briskly by
He is running late
His meeting starts in fifteen minutes
But even he
Can't help
But stop for a second
To glance upon the little girl
Staring, awestruck,
At the station’s
Teddy bear tree
And envy the child
Whose eyes are portals
To a world where all
Anyone does
Is sit and stare
And wonder.

Congratulations to all 2015 Betjeman Poetry Prize runners up and highly commended: Madeline Flaherty, Remi Obasa, Aisha Mango Borja, Henrietta Jinivizian, Opefoluwa Sarah Adegbite. The Betjeman Poetry Prize competition reopens in January 2016.

Station

By Lucy Arnold-Forster

Just passing through
I can’t stop
I have somewhere to be
Just passing through
Got to catch the next Eurostar
Don’t hold me up
Just grabbing a coffee
As I said, I’m
Just passing through

Around her,
Ancient uprooted souls
Haunt the graveyard that used to be
Forests of pillars
And bright places that were once made of beer and darkness
Tracks which still smell like the sound of horse’s hooves
Poetry that cries out from beneath her feet
Ceilings that seize the sky by its shoulders
Arching above her head
And clocks brimful of time-old tales
Draughts that carve ceilings into statues
And sweep the hats off their heads…

As I said, I’m
Just passing through.