Winter 2004 Poetry Competition First Prize

At the Border


by Gwil Williams

Email: gwil@aon.at


Finding the border was easy.

Crossing it wasn't.

National flags greeted our approach.

It was where the map said it would be.

It was where the road stopped.


Radar was a timely sign that we were there;

painted olive-green to match the surroundings

scanning in the direction they came from

last time with their surprise attack.


An absence of vegetation followed;

concrete watchtowers with slits for eyes

appeared on barren hills amid curls of

razor wire barring the way to the minefields.


In the last village before the border 

at a small round table

outside a bar

three men sip coffee

from small cups;

smoke cigarettes;

exchange sporadic remarks

concerning a lottery ticket;

you couldn't call it a conversation.

At the first hint of rain they move

under cover.


It's the same on the other side.

They have their border paraphernalia



Here is an old mirror.

This crack from top to bottom

is no man's land.


©2004Gwil Williams


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