Runners Up for 2017

The runners up in the 2017 competition were as follows:-

The Bat Corridor - by Marion Adams - Devon

We watch them on the monitor and believe that what we see
is how they are now,
now this very moment,
wings uncreasing gently, fidgeting themselves to life,
crammed in their stuffy cave haven.
Later I'll discover that this is not real time,
that in some ways it's untrue.

Single file, we leave the cliff-top hut
too soon and are compelled to saunter.
Our guide seems very young and wants to please,
kills sluggish minutes mumbling half-remembered stats
on population, conservation. Adjusts the bat detector yet again.
This stubborn sun is a long time sinking.

It isn't easy, squatting on this slope
between hedgerows, in the bat corridor,
shoulder to shoulder with strangers,
forcing myself to stillness
among the tiny stones and hidden thistles,
with the ground pitching us seaward, but
the small talk stops
as abruptly as the cliff edge
with the first intimation of their nearness,
the transposition of their secret and continual conversation
to our ear level, edgy clicks and tuts and whirs
and a warbling that's disturbingly unbirdlike, and then
a flash of darkness
out of the blue, a swerve as graceful as it's sudden;
someone close by gasps and giggles,
probably flattening their hair against their skull
because you never know.
You never know.

Thirteen Things in my Pitcairn Island Sewing Basket - by
Denise Bennett - Hampshire.

This basket, a present from Pitcairn,
woven from palm leaves,
my name picked out in the pattern,
was made by a mutineer's son, Jacob Warren.
Commissioned by my travelling beau
over forty years ago,
it holds the haberdashery of our marriage.

Here is a hessian needle-case
with red running stitches, made in junior school

and a Royal Doulton china thimble
boxed, unused but loved and kept -

a handful of name-tapes for Emily;
...those endless days of sewing labels.

And here's Tim's water-baby swimming badge
I couldn't throw away - unstitched and saved;

a flowered, patchwork hexagon
left over from the doll's coverlet I made

a ruffle of cream lace, just enough
for a rosette or to trim the neck of a blouse,

and a reel of thin, yellow tacking cotton
to hold those temporary seams and hems -

and the given green, darning mushroom
I never quite got the hang of-and a card

of blue wool to mend the elbows of Tom's jumper
which he did better than me - a skill learnt at sea.

And I find an old, round rusty tin filled
with mouthfulls of steel dress-making pins,

and the crochet hook I used to make
that fancy shawl in Fishguard years ago,

and a packet of tiny mother of pearl buttons,
right size for a baby's matinee jacket.

Lastly, my shiny, silver scissors,
just big enough to fit my fingers.

As I tuck these things away
I think of all my bountiful years
and of the hands that made my gift,
hands from the hands of a mutineer.

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