Monday, May 27, 2019

Senior Poetry Prize 2019

Last night at Voices of Poetry (a report comes shortly), Tania Stokes was named as the winner of this year's Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry, and she read out 'Seeing Tunnels', a sonnet. Also here are two other poems in her winning portfolio, 'Friend in Waiting' and 'The Edge of the Woods'.

Seeing Tunnels
I hear it whispered love can make you soar
On ruby wings or diamonds of delight.
What I have found must be the rough-hewn ore –
It glitters crudely, underground – at night.
And should I toil away within the mines,
With instruments in stubborn mettle bound?
I pry my gems from rock in these confines,
No surface trace of slaving to be found.
But just how fine a cut can I perfect
When tunnels, low and dim, are all I see?
Will he, when I present the jewels, reject
My imitation of identity?
  So maybe love’s not solely in the mined.
  It shines with Sun and grit of hearts combined.

The Edge of the Woods

We stretched ourselves upon the grass,
Backs dappled with cautious shadows;
Beech and horse chestnut trees restless
And snickering, wind winnowing
Soft through the blades of forest glades.
The stand seemed to bow and recede –
The recoiling of a snail’s eye.
Stalks of wild rye murmured below.

Right then, at the edge of the woods,
The gate lodge of the wilderness,
Time stopped. We both waited, bodies
Against the earth, the warmth and weight
Of soil beneath us as we breathed.
We may never have been worthy.
But nature offered us a glimpse,
A fleeting glimmer of forgiveness:

A rabbit, winking in the grass.
The sun sparkled between two clouds
And golden light licked the whiskers
On the twitching head. A white tail
Arced silently over the ground,
Ears swivelled, catching heaven’s glow
And blushing like fugitive gems.
We were close enough to see veins.

Friend in Waiting

A daily face, pale and interesting –
Introspective when its gaze is resting.
His features, white and frail,
Are veiled, celestial:

There's a delicate wisdom – about
The downturned corners of his frozen mouth –
And downy wisps of hair
Fall roundabout.

I've never seen him whisper or confide.
He has a depth that silence kept provides;
Whatever rests unsaid
Matures inside.

Yet when I spy him drifting on his way
I wonder if appearances betray
The person underneath
This soft array.

Like those who yearn on Keats’s Grecian Urn,
I hope his ghostly image is eternal.
We can't be friends
For fear of what I'd learn.

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