Last winter, I submitted the poem to Quills, a Canadian literary magazine. Yesterday, my letter carrier brought me a copy of the magazine. To my surprise, it contained my poem. But even more surprisingly, tucked into the first page was a cheque with my name on it. "Change Room" had won the magazine's First Prize.
Here's a picture of the fabulous prize.
I'll admit, it's not all that often I get to see a cheque (especially for a poem) with that many digits in it. Pretty sweet, eh?
Anyway, if you're still with me, here's the poem.
I have come to recognize
the shape of old incisions
learned to read the lines of scars
the zigzag left on thighs
where metal hips go in
the long frown where a kidney
used to hang.
I understand the petalled scrolls
of stretch marks on breasts
indigo scribbles of varicose veins
meandering past a knee
the puckered line on an abdomen
where a doctor once reached in
pulled out the baby coiled inside
that child since grown to a man.
These women in the change room
sit down to tie their shoes
use clothes pegs to pull up their socks
have devised ingenious ways
of levering on their underwear,
outsmarting the reach of their arms.
They take balance from the strength of walls
lean into them, like lovers, with grace.
I do my best to follow the steps, mime
their cautious techniques, learn
from them, these subtle