Patricia Beer is one of the 10 poets on the shortlist for the pounds 5,000 T S Eliot prize who will be featured in the Daily Poem this week. The winner will be announced next January, after an Oscars-style process in which the 1,850 members of the Poetry Book Society will each have a vote. She was born in Exmouth, Devon. She studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and taught English literature in Italy and at Goldsmith's College. She gave up teaching in 1968 to become a full-time writer. This poem appears in Friend of Heraclitus, published by Carcanet at pounds 6.95.