First Prize- Gill Goater for Gifts From My Father
Gifts from My Father 
 
This ancient rock is cool to touch
with indentations bearing grains of sand.
With wetted fingertip, I touch the grey. It deepens
into black but leaves a chalky powder on my hands
I touch it to my tongue. It has no taste.
I did expect to savour dust or brine
a musty tang perhaps, at least a sense
of something ancient in its flavour.
I hold it to my ear. Its denseness blocks
the song of ocean pounding on the shore.
This rock reminds me of my dad.
He was a boy when Halley’s comet
brought the English to their knees in fright.
I won’t be here when it returns, he said.
Promise me you’ll watch for it.
But when it came, it was too far away
Just a slightly brighter star with smeary tail.
I wished I’d seen what he had seen.
This rock connects me to my loneliness
I reach towards the stars, which gave it birth.
The blackness of the sky is huge, it eats me up.
I wonder if my father felt the same.
I wish this rock could speak. Perhaps it holds
within itself the imprint of my father’s mind
and thus I might begin to know him as I never did
when he was still alive and I was just a child.
Gill Goater
Second Prize- Francis Olive for The Change

The Change

The Cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are thought to be the descendents of the wolf-like mammals Mesonychians.

Whales once walked the earth as wolves.
Those glistening bulbs, like ever growing pearls
pawed roots of trees and howled
when the moon passed
as if with premonition
they called their children home.
I imagine a moment on the shore:
paused before a wave, the wolves are heavy
with wind and sweat.
The wave breaks – the water is rushing in –
and it’s over in a moment.
The constant tug of time
is bounded at the centre by two wolves
newly flowing out to sea.