Nine, Hillcrest Street

Jessica Andreatta

Winner of the Norman Beard Award

Friday mornings, Mrs M goes to the library to take up where she finished the week before. Knitting in nonfiction; SWE in fiction; foreign languages or large print—wherever it is she was up to. Electronic media and books for the young: the only exceptions to her rule. As someone checking each and every spine for something they are yet to read—or someone in search of a title piquing—she runs her finger along each book of every shelf until she comes across that for which she is searching: a book out of place.
       She takes it out, turns it over, reads the blurb and inside cover.
       ‘One.’
       She replaces the book in its correct position and continues from the space left behind. Number by number—or letter by letter, depending—finding and replacing until she comes to a ninth, misplaced. The ninth book of the day is the one she borrows.
       Her house is number nine. Nine, Hillcrest Street.
       Mr M bought it for them both when they were married saying as they signed the papers, ‘Nine seems a nice round number. Round as its bottom front step.’ And there is the ninth of the ninth, Mrs M had replied when it came to her turn with the pen. Mr M nodding and
knowing: theirs—an early spring wedding.
       Fifty-nine years and nine months.
       How cruel it seemed, Mr M said, that he should be going ahead of her. ‘On the ninth of all things,’ at a whisper. But Mrs M only smiled, the sort she reserved for him alone, when it was he would make her morning tea with lemon.
       She stroked his cheek and caught his leaving. ‘In the hands of Grace,’ she said—holding his in hers. And though he was gone she sat alongside, catching his warmth as it ebbed and doing her best to take it all in.
       She holds his warmth in her shadows, like a rounded front step in an afternoon turning to twilight. As such, it simply is. The ninth. The ninth she holds to breast, walking home with it resting against her, beneath a grey knitted hat; beneath a waning sun.


Norman Beard Award - pic of NormanNorman passed in 2014. He left his wife Maureen behind who misses him dearly and thinks of him every day. This award was donated by his granddaughter Jessie

Earth oven

Isobel Hodges

Preparation begins by heating
the stones.
Next, lay the food down
cover with earth
and leave for many hours.

I slide the tube behind your ear
the device cycles
a mechanical meter.
If it can’t detect breath
it will dispense air
unabated
until your lungs catch up.

Your lungs won’t catch up.

I rub your spotted arms
and kiss your forehead.
I scratch your stubble
and you smile, say,
I’ll shave tomorrow.

I long to crawl into the pit
with the yams and the fish.

I don’t know how this will end/
I know how this ends.

Michael Burdett Award - pic of Michael Burdett poet

Michael was a lover of poetry and an accomplished poet. He lived a life of integrity and intellectual curiosity, tempered with whimsical humour. Donated by Vicki Laveau-Harvie

Michael Burdett, lover of poetry and nature, cherished the profundity of the everyday, the meaning carried by the ordinary miracles that make up our lives. He would have loved this poem, ‘Earth Oven’. Still missing you, my dear friend. Vicki