(for poetry competition in Horizon Newsletter; it was a runner-up)
Life taught me hardness
armoured insulation, steel beauty
chill, impervious, a shell of ice, concealing diamond fire.
Life taught me sharpness
of eye, of hand, of mind
an edge that makes me first to strike
in vengeance or defence
and the last left standing.
So honed am I.
Skills dearly bought, cheaply sold;
buyers would not pay my cost -
the price of pain and dear lives lost
that fuelled my learning
ground my edge to adamant.
Life taught me loyalty
to myself and to my dead.
I gave the give of vengeance
the debt of honour paid
the arrow striking target, now mislaid.
Now I sell my skill for targets
and never miss.
-- Kathryn A (runner-up in Horizon poetry competition, 1990)