Winner of Dalkey Creates Poetry Competition: ‘Love was almond shaped’ by Denise O’Hagan

Winner of the Dalkey Creates Poetry Competition

Love was almond shaped

by Denise O’Hagan

Love was almond shaped
On sultry summer afternoons
When we sat outside in slatted light
With geraniums and the last of the washing
High above the eternal traffic noise
And other muted noise of the Eternal City
As she taught me how to crack them open
Holding both my hands in one of hers
Steadying my palm, spanning my fingers 
Across the stern metal jowls of the nutcracker,
I’d squeeze and squeeze until each pitted casing
Strained and split at last, a rough unveiling 
And I, the beneficiary of sleek, sweet-tasting pods
Caught a blur of hair as she bent to scoop up splinters,
Her wedding band twinkling gold,
My whole world ringed by that balcony.

Denise O’Hagan, winner of the Dalkey Creates Poetry Competition

Denise O’Hagan was born in Rome and based in Sydney. She has a background in commercial book publishing, and worked as an editor for Collins, Heinemann, Routledge and Cambridge University Press, and was consulting editor for the State Library of NSW. In 2015 she set up her own imprint, Black Quill Press, through which she assists authors wishing to publish independently. She is also Poetry Editor for Australia/New Zealand for Irish literary journal The Blue Nib. Her poetry is widely published and awarded. The Beating Heart is her debut poetry collection (Ginninderra Press 2020).