Susan Middleton wins Beals Prize For Poetry 

  • Susan Middleton of Ashfield (center) was proclaimed the winner of the Beals Prize for Poetry for her poem, “Crossing Tidewater Basin after Visiting Mom in the Hospital.” On her right is second place finisher, Barbara Lemoine of Northfield, and on her left is Elaine Reardon of Warwick, third place. Submitted photo

Published: 12/6/2018 10:00:23 PM
Modified: 12/6/2018 10:00:34 PM

WINCHENDON — A panel of three distinguished judges recently proclaimed Susan Middleton of Ashfield the winner of the first Beals Prize for Poetry for her poem, Crossing Tidewater Basin after Visiting Mom in the Hospital. Second place went to Barbara Lemoine of Northfield for Instructions for Sleep, and Elaine Reardon of Warwick took third with Hye Holiday Gathering. Other finalists included Veronica L. Derby of Ashburnham, Sharon Harmon of Royalston, Laura Rodley of Shelburne Falls, Stephen Seraichick of Keene, NH, and Sara Williams of Gardner. Judges for the competition were Trish Crapo, Candace Curran and Samantha Wood. The competition honors the memory of Charles L. Beals, the benefactor of the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon, Massachusetts.

The winning poem is included below:

Crossing Tidewater Basin After Visiting Mom in the Hospital

Flat land leaves me uneasy—

no mountains, no hills, nothing to break

the horizon, like a streak of phosphors

sliding across a dark screen:

EKG’s mosquito whine at life’s end.


Give me the lively jerks and twitches

that a rocky bluff makes against an ocean sky,

or a ridgeline of trees’ tufted profile—

as reassuring to the eye

as heartbeat rhythms to the ear:

Come walk here, invites the hillside.

The edge is thrilling, calls the promontory.


Even treeless prairies, shaped by the long-ago

press of a glacier’s frigid tongue,

are not cold to the eye

but warm as the breath of life—

Grasses ride waves of rolling earth

like whales emerging from the sea

to arc, then nose down below:

Slow but not still.

Quiet but for their huge breathing.

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