Poetry Centre

Second place

  • Amy Ellis’s second-placed poem, ‘Stirring’, in contrast to her first, depicts the warmth of a relationship between what seems to be a grandmother and granddaughter. It reflects with great tenderness upon a private moment as the speaker looks into the kitchen to see an elderly woman carrying out the everyday action of cooking. The grandmother does so selflessly, almost defiantly, making something to please the granddaughter, but in that unguarded moment, she reveals her own fragility and age, and the poet offers the reader a tension between the grandmother’s repetitive action, and our knowledge of her mortality.

    Stirring

    Cotton nightgown clings to my legs
    after bath time. I emerge from the light 
    of the hallway to see her stirring, hushed, 
    hunched. Yellow glow above the stove 
    casts shadows on the creases 
    in her cheeks. The steam rises slowly 
    from the stainless steel pan, 
    past her lined face, thin wrinkled 
    hand like ruched fabric, blue veins 
    like ribbons, holding her frailty together 
    as she stirs the warm apples until they fall apart, 
    turn to soft caramel brown, blend 
    with cinnamon to melt 
    in my mouth as a bedtime treat. 
    The light reflects off linoleum
    as her arm moves—a steady pace, stirring.

    by Amy Ellis