The Hamish Canham Poetry Prize 2004
Winner: Denise Bennett

Denise Bennett has an MA in creative writing (poetry) and teaches FE classes in this subject. Her work has appeared in various poetry magazines and her first pamphlet collection, American Dresses, was published by Flarestack.

The poem, 'Changing Shape', is a true account, written after finding a passport photograph of her mother, who is aged 92.

Changing Shape


Her passport describes her
as five feet three
but that was fifty years ago
when she was as slim
as an iris
with a river of red hair.

Now the stem of her spine
has shrunk, she barely
measures four foot ten.
Slack flesh hangs
from her manicured hands.
Her lillied feet are bunioned

and the fairytale hair
clings like white wisps
of sheep's wool to her pink scalp.
She is doll-like
swathed in cardigans
layered in petticoats and pleated skirts

and as I lift her
into the wheel chair
I feel the bud of her small body
closing.