About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Fallen Woman

My poem, 'Fallen Woman', won the Chipping Sodbury Festival Poetry Competition last night.  

It's about Sarah Ann Henley, who jumped from the Clifton Suspension Bridge on 8th May 1885, only for her dress and petticoats to fill with air, parachuting her onto the muddy river bank below.  She died 63 years later, a reluctant celebrity.

This is my poem having a little lap of honour before it sinks back into the mud of obscurity.

Fallen Woman

Mud sticks,
sister of Icarus,
under the nails of pointing fingers,
to the skin of idle tongues.

You can scrub your treacherous dress,
those voluminous petties.
The prurient breeze still lifts the hem
and sniffs beneath.

You tumbled before you stepped
from Clifton’s glittering parapet, the city
spread between your legs
like a dowry to the wind,

which wrapped itself around your body
and possessed you,
as you somersaulted
like a clanging knell,

and plumped
the lecherous lover’s bed
that dipped to catch you
as you fell.

Deborah Harvey © 2009 , 2011

NB. My first poetry collection, Communion, is being published by Indigo Dreams next month. This poem isn't in it.


  1. The mud of obscurity? I think not. What an amazing story, and a wonderful poem. Well done you for winning the Chipping Sodbury, the rest of the field had no chance! so chuffed for you and all your successes!