3rd, Short Category 2009 - Stephen Boyce


My father had a brass field telescope
its shaft wrapped in black webbing
and a tiny eyelid at the viewing end
that slid aside revealing ships at sea,
swallows in flight, cathedral spires,
at night the moon and yellow stars.
A cap with a milled edge snapped
over the larger lens so that, folded,
the tube contained the whole round
world, and all the life I ever wanted.

Judge's comment:
I think this is an almost perfect short poem. It is beautifully matched to its subject.  The narrow  column of lines even looks like a very short telescope.  I was intrigued by the detailed description, both exact and imaginative: ‘tiny eyelid’.  The long vowels of the central lines, with their ‘moon and yellow stars’ give a lovely expansiveness to the sound.  This prepares the reader subtly for the expansion of sense in the longer final line, which opens up to contemplate ‘all the life I ever wanted’. This is a deeply rewarding poem, especially when read aloud.

Alison Brackenbury