1st, Short Category 2010 - Kate Dempsey
Amsterdam Otto Recommends
And an emerald square cut, says Otto,
green for Ireland or something like that, offset just so.
Diamonds on black felt sparkle under
halogen lamps like a night sky in the polders.
We nod, dazed as the guilders churn
to madness. He tweezers the tiny stone, turns
so it glitters like Elizabeth Taylor's first;
one month's salary in one small burst.
Of course, in a few years, he says, glancing up,
but not at me, you can trade up.
Worthy of the first prize as it is a clever poem about several ideas. The comparison of the diamond to Ireland is deliberately off-hand yet subtly hints at the current decline of that country. The diamond is small yet a starting point on the acquisition of wealth. The romance is pitched in such cynical terms as masculinity is played off against the passively rendered woman. May be there is a further comment about Ireland as a violated woman. The global aspect of the poem with wealth and politics from afar affecting the local is captured in the title and the setting.