AUTUMN VOICES OVER 70 POETRY COMPETITON
HIGHLY COMMENDED: JANET KILLEEN (age 85)

With her poem Ripeness is All.

Yorkshire-born Janet Killeen studied at the University of Kent and taught English at a comprehensive school in South London for thirty seven years. Retirement opened up new opportunities: to begin to write and to travel – memorably to New Zealand and Canada. She writes short stories, exploring choice, time and the significance of landscape, as well as poetry. In 2017 she published her first novel, ‘After the Flood’ which moves between the Somerset Levels in the aftermath of the 2014 floods and the English Civil War, finding parallels of religious fanaticism in that conflict and the issues we face today. She is working on a sequel as well as writing poems: poetry is the greatest challenge!

Ripeness is All

That last bite
Let it be sweet, the nut. The kernel of me.
Not rancid with fear or greed, nor
Shell-shrunk in corrugations,
Nor bitter with seclusion in the dark.
(Let me not be mad, not mad sweet heaven)
But, if it must be so,
Let it be a dizziness of grace,
Cadenzas of generosity,
Coruscations,
Catherine wheels of sparking laughter.

Let my eyes climb spiralling heights of trees.
May I stop
A whole hour to hear a bird sing above
The traffic.
With childish stumbling steps
Caress the earth,
And fingers run
Through liquid air and airy water.

Let me watch
A snowdrop push back crumbs of mould
From its green shoulder
And tremble in the light.