The Starkey Flythe Jr. Memorial Prize

Ruth Nicholson



Waltz me out the ballroom door away

from the burnished parquet floor

into the pearly dew.

Pretend Jane Austen lives

and has destined us to rendezvous.

For now, a dance upon the lawn for sport.

Nosegay, bonnet, blush—in the manner

of the manor we will court:

sachet of flowers’ breath at dusk,

scented note concealed inside a book,

earnest whispers at the harpsichord,

along the cobbled lane a knowing look.

Meeting at the stone bench

where the footman liked to drink his beer,

the almost-touch of parted lips,

the almost-taste of salt behind the ear.