Mary MacRae’s second collection
published Aug 10 by Second Light Publications. See order form (pdf file) for discount offers
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Round 9, Month 11: Katherine Gallagher is our judge this month and her winning poem is What Lies in the Winter Wood, by Gill Horitz. Her selection of four commended poems are by Anne Ballard, Clare Crossman, Daphne Gloag and Anne Ryland
End of day, end of year – and she’s thinking what’s next,
her head against the pane and the wind slamming the gate.
When she looks up, the trees are moving through the half light
towards her, through snow piled over the vanished road.
Not a single thought holds her back.
All the meanings held by the trees she remembers,
and how their barks can be unrolled and written upon.
No ordinary wood moves like this, and time is short.
Through the holly tunnels she sings a low song to the owl
and the night leans down, savouring her wintry breath.
What will I take from this? she thinks, looking back
as the moon hurries her along. To believe just once
that such a place exists, the imaginary heart
where everything worth moving towards lies.
Poem published in Smiths Knoll, Issue 50
I chose this passionate and intriguingly mysterious poem for its tightly-woven exploration of what lies behind the ‘Winter Wood’, a question we have no doubt asked ourselves many times as each year sweeps by. The first two lines set the tone: ‘End of day, end of year – and she’s thinking what’s next, / her head against the pane and the wind slamming the gate.’ That gate-slam, symbolic and arresting, introduces a momentum for the rest of this beautifully-observed poem.