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Matthew Beaumont
Matthew Beaumont teaches in the English Department at UCL

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This, titled ‘Mouth’ in my father’s fading hand, found by my sister on a half-concealed shelf in his house after he had died…:   The last time I posted a letter I came home unable to speak   The postbox looked as it had looked for the last decade, red, solid and satisfyingly leaden, as if indeed it were made of lead, like one of the soldiers in bright regimental uniform I inherited from my father, and liked secretly to lick, and used to dispose in elaborate battalions on the linoleum floor of my mother’s kitchen, a floor that, when I stretched myself out on my stomach in order to imagine the armies I’d arranged around me, resembled a desert battlefield, especially when I half closed my eyes and mimicked the sound of bombs falling, making soft crepitations with my lips, a battlefield even though the kitchen floor was flat and smelled of the dust ingrained in its surface, a surface that, up close, appeared to be slightly porous, faintly cratered, like the scars on my father’s cheeks, which I associated with his habit of smoking for some reason, a dust so embedded in its surface that it emitted an almost imperceptible atmosphere, distinct from the carpeted or upholstered parts of the house, which were also landscapes to me, an atmosphere more like that of the moon, which has a mist, I’d assumed, that tastes of fine grit, from the fragments of rock that lie scattered on it like bones and teeth, boulders like the round ends of ball-and-socket joints   The red postbox looked as it had done then ever since I’d first encountered it, solid and dependable and smiling, an old friend, a Chelsea pensioner marooned on the side of the road on a tentative trip to the shops, or so I thought when I shuffled round it from the side, momentarily catching my left slipper, I was wearing battered felt slippers, and scraping it with a soft, rasping sound I liked on a piece of paving that protruded slightly, as if a creature I didn’t know existed had cautiously lifted it, like
Mouth

Prize Entry

April 2018

Matthew Beaumont


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