Winners 2008: First prize

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Emily Middleton (Winner)

The King’s School, Macclesfield, Cheshire

The Five Stages

It began long ago, when we pooled blood
like brothers. Respecting the membrane
of our imaginations, we never left
our confines; spent the nights conjuring fire.

Then we found the plough, ablated the fruit;
metastatic, we spread around the globe,
dividing into slaves and enslavers.
We sculpted states, guarded them like eagles,

but we needed leaders, and the weakest
succumbed; laboured till backs cracked, sinews snapped.
A biopsy of their lives showed much was missing;
ascending to the ministry of their own fate,

they rammed down the door, no longer benign,
to carve off chunks of power, form councils.
Men bought and sold their way to the top
whilst others shared the status of amoebas.

Yet there was still a canyon between us.
We struggled like strangers; chose to unite
as comrades with blows, bullets and blood.
The end was brutal: the change was complete.