Sequence Prize Winners

First Prize – Carmel Summers and Anne Benjamin

‘Still Life’

of those good years
I recall only outlines
like a Matisse sketch
reduced to crayon strokes
these days, none of them bold
light brushes
the pearl of her earring
as she turns back –
luminous girl
in a room dark with shadows
apples polished
knobbly pears arranged
just so
in lockdown, we become
our own still life
in their field they pause
over basket and pitchfork,
bent in prayer
evening bells remind me
all the things I’ve yet to do
and magpie jollity
in my garden
not to join in
across the street
school kids skip and squeal
if only my feet kept up
with the rest of me
nesting cockatoos
on their hollow tree
eye me warily
neither they, nor I, wanting
to share their safe refuge
a little frog
in the bath upstairs
surprises us both –
I wonder
should I kiss him
some nudge elbows
others simply stand back
hand to heart
on my doorstep a posy…
flowers from a friend’s garden
eighty-year old oak
our neighbour cut so hard
now shimmers
iridescent as fresh lime
the way I plan to grow old
going, going, gone
our family farm surrendered
to a keen bidder
will he discover
dreams we buried in the soil?
our phone connection
prickles with static –
I plant
three scarlet petunias
in shiny red pots
everywhere I turn
fact or fiction –
in these uncertain times
how much I want to believe
blocked by basalt rocks
midstream, the creek
eddies round –
in the swirl and flow
I find a way that’s mine
spray rises
where the water
falls hardest
sparkles of hope
when all seems low

Second Prize – Gerry Jacobsen

‘In a Canberra Garden’

plum blossom drifts
like snow
opening my eyes
the woodpile has survived
one more winter
alone …
preparing veggie beds
planting seeds
in the silence
sadness sprouts
Christmas morning
cicadas chirping
flies buzzing
mossies biting
cockatoos squawking
dome of heat
shiver of fear
a dragon
breathing fire and smoke …
our country burns
March that bakes
the Limestone Plains
dry thistles
scratch my ankles
grass seeds stick to my socks
pumpkin vines
on the rampage
in the chook yard
the old black hen
reluctant to descend
midwinter chore …
I dig up old plants
divide the crowns
spreading rhubarb
all over this world

Third Prize – Hazel Hall

‘Moments of Gold and Green’

how to mend
this broken world
with no gold
maybe poetry will help
to bind the pieces
ravaged landscape
from a single match
nature waits . . .
at the end of hope
will green appear again?
forest light 
filters through leaves
a jazz moment
as two king parrots
sing the greens
a flock of yobs
with crests of lemon
ride the wind
screeching graffiti 
feasting on my figs

Third Prize – David Terelinck

‘Godlight at Dusk’

landscapes of
standing stones & heather —
how could I know
falling in love at my age
would feel like this
honeyed years
when I was far too old
for another cat
but far too young
to live alone
I gave no thought
to questions of what if
and when –
the hottest fires burn
from the driest kindling
heartache with hope –
the breeze 
feathering wild fennel, 
godlight at dusk 

Fourth Prize – Amelia Fielden

‘Untested Depth’

not quite light
outside, the first birds chirping
and close-by
my dog softly breathing …
another day of life
a King parrot thuds
against my kitchen window —
dark despair
in the Prime Minister’s voice
on The Today Show

Fourth Prize – Kathy Kituai and Barbara Curnow

‘Will We Ever know’

the cat
watches the tap drip
for hours
I too, spend time pondering
the meaning of life
will we ever know
what existed before
the Big Bang…
I busy myself
with family history
should I worry
if I’m English Scottish
or Australian
kookaburras laughing …
scent of gum leaves on the wind
the paper bark tree
lived its long life
by the lake…
what I’d give to be sure
of my place in the world