Runners Up for 2017 will be here in October

Ten equal runners up in the 2016 competition were as follows:-

The Oxfam Experience - by Pat Borthwick

One week, its window is all pastel hats and Easter chicks.
Next a gardening theme, 'When To' books and wellies, trugs,

a felt blackbird tugging on a knitted worm. Now it's a sea
of rumpled satin. In its folds, things chosen for being red

or white, or both - scarlet soccer boots, a plastic horn,
a backdrop of St George's flag, odd match programmes.

Odd is why I love my local Oxfam, a regular stop-off
for all the town. Mack, taller then the curtain pole

propped in the corner, shouts about The Lord, then
in a louder voice, asks shoppers personal questions,

sends them scurrying behind carousels and into cubicles.
Lilian always visits mid-morning, leaves each time with

something for 69p. Look what I've bought for 69P
she tells everyone in the shop and everyone she passes

on her way back to the 'Sheltered'. You don't come here
knowing what you're looking for, it's the juxtposition

draws you in. I help fill the shop as often as I can
but always take home more than I brought in for them.

I search like an inland beachcomber, touch everything
as if it's family - a tin of crochet hooks and tassels, toys,

china ornaments, an unusual 'Utmost' pogo stick propped
under the wall cabinet with better jewellery. My lilac

balaclava (49p) has been there weeks. Stay strong' I'll say,
wondering how it feels to be abandoned. Even Lilian hasn't

seen it. What a nice colour, the volunteer says as I hand over 50p,
put 1p in the box. I couldn't leave it there feeling unwanted.

Parting - by Sue Davies
Luneburg Station, 1946

The shrinking white railway station
is fastened by icicles, the battered door sealed by frost.

Everything is snow-laden and quiet.
Snowflakes fall on their shoulders and hair.
Her eyes settle on him. The trees and sky are blue as death.

He opens his army coat and taked her bare hands
to warm inside, her fingers burning with cold -
fingers that melted the frost-ferns inside the wash bowl,
pulled turnips in the fields, fed the livestock,

A suitcase with stickers from London and Berlin
stands precariously at their feet. Time to part, time to kiss-
but the train is late. Perhaps it will never come.

They stay close like this, and smile to watch his suitcase
slowly slide down the glacial slope out of reach.

By then, anyhow, their footsteps along the path
have filled with snow.

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