‘Hunger’ by George Szirtes


I have made my piece with hunger.
It’s a flea behind my ear. I scratch it
on demand. I am all soft landings,
quizzical windings, but hunger
is what winds in me. I watch it,
sharp as that beam of light stuck
fast in the glass. It seems to point
to a speck I must capture, toy with,
and consume. So it consumes me.
My nerves radiate from it, a coil of want
that curls me up when it settles.

Hunger is the missing, the desolate
part of me. I own it as I own my calm.
I pad around on it. I scratch myself.
I roll around in the beam of sharp light.
Hunger arches my back. I hang my coat on it.
George Szirtes won the T S Eliot Prize in 2005. His next book Bad Machine appears in January 2013.