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2018 Traditional Verse

Shire Resident's Prize

Shire Resident's Prize

The Last Wave
Ann O’Connor

Gymea, NSW

The sea rolled in with force and power
Along the rugged shore.
The day was mixed with sun and shower
As time relentless bore.

Alone and lonely on the sand
A stick-like figure stood
With clammy skin and shaking hand
Expression stiff as wood.

Horizon-seeking eyes were dark
And questioning the sky.
The options clear, the future stark.
“Why should I not just die?”

And slowly taking off her shirt
She neatly stacked the pile.
And layer by layer peeled off the hurt
And forced a twisted smile.

“Now let them know what I’ve been through
And in my agony share
And feel the pain and suffering, too
When friends no longer care.”

The beach was scrubbed and scoured till clean,
Churned by the outgoing tide.
The turmoil raging there unseen
Was fierce as mates who lied.

And step by step, she made her way
Towards the hidden rocks
Whose presence, shown by spit and spray,
The safety flag it mocks.

And slowly, as she felt the cold
Sea-water on her feet,
The thrill of fear as sand unrolled
And set her heart abeat.

She knew that she could not go on
And slide into the sea.
A coward’s mantle she must don
And never would be free.

But back and forth she would be drawn
Like tides along the beach.
By friends and foe she would be torn
As shore she tried to reach.

And as the sea is never still
She too would ebb and flow.
Despite her strong and steadfast will
Her journey would be slow.

But now she knew that she was strong,
Relentless as the sea.
The final wave to doubt was long.
A fighter she would be

Judge's Comment

This, like Jack, My Friend, is a contemplation on suicide, but from a different perspective: “Why should I not just die?” The poet, deftly using the sea as both setting and metaphor, takes us into the mind of a woman who, wracked by a combination of anger, guilt and doubt, faces her demons.

Author's Comment

I am very pleased as it expresses my feelings about the Shire and its seashore when I arrived in the area a few years ago. I live in Gymea and as an ex-Londoner I love the feeling of being surrounded by beaches and bays but am aware of the dangers and sadness they can bring as well as the joys.

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