The Nancy Walton Pringle Memorial Prize
Mt. Pleasant, SC
Ten years after his friend’s martyrdom
he hunkers over passages of diagonal lattice
at the base and crown of the letter P.
As he paints onto the vellum page,
his brushstrokes become slender dancers
in gold-edged garb. They have stepped
from sky blue lettered blocks
to a carpet of ochre and burgundy.
Their promenade is a delicate
braid. Courtly flourish, bow.
Now they turn, weave paths. Chaste
eyes glance lightly as they pass.
The vertical itself is a corridor of S’s.
Spin, sashay, now swirl the other way.
Heads tilt, bodies sway. Halfway through,
enter the moon-faced cat. Its impish smile.
Now follow this cat to the curl’s great spiral,
a spring coiled to keep heaven ticking,
dizzy labyrinth haunted with squiggle
of stoats, wriggle of weasels,
although, hard to tell, could be opalescence
of otters. Then, yet again, the cat.
And the gambol? Who’s to say this scribe
did not pirouette, drunk on the sublime,
the halls of Cirencester Abbey? Who is to say
he did not dance in his cell, bare feet on cold stone?