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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.
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.