Runner-Up for the 2023 Lewis Edwards Memorial Prize

Devki Panchmatia is a poet based in Edinburgh and London. She was a runner up for the Orwell Youth Prize in 2019, has performed her poetry at the Hidden Door Festival, and is the assistant editor of Outcrop Poetry magazine. You can find her work in The Broad, Interpret Magazine, and Speak-Easy.

Connect with Devki
Instagram: @devkipanchmatia
Bear Hunt

Post tree-fall comes the hurl of underbug from the log.
Here, in the bramble wood, no one knows how to ask for things.

(But there were airports once, and there were motorways.
A world where I was endlessly going home, where I could
pretend to fall asleep and be carried to bed.)

One day, you get too old.
So we came here together, to look for stones and bears; to get drunk, away
from questions or mornings. But things turned under.
I couldn’t start a fire, he couldn’t hunt, and she just cried,
hating her mother who never came to find her.

But I stayed. What did they do?
While I learnt how to make fire, he got tired and walked, hurting, to the bus stop.
She got lost. I stayed warm, I stayed drunk.

Gummy sky above. Holiday planes wading through the muck. I uproot
incorrigible nettles, and the brambles double under night.

Waiting in the dark for a bear. Nothing moves. You know,
if you listen to the silence of the forest too long, it starts telling you things:
Your mother will never find you. She isn’t even looking.

Devki says: Bear Hunt was partly inspired by the Michael Rosen book, ‘We’re Going on A Bear Hunt’. I was equal parts terrified and allured by it as a child. Why on earth would a family with two small children voluntarily look for a bear?