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3rd prize - 2017

Photograph of Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher is a part-time teacher and PhD student at Cardiff University. Her work has featured in a number of publications including The London Magazine, The Interpreter's House, Planet Magazine and more. Her first collection, More than you were, was shortlisted in Bare Fiction's Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and published by Parthian Books in April 2017. To learn more about Christina's work please visit her website: christinathatcher.com or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower

Advice from Costa Rica by Christina Thatcher

Pay attention and you will notice life here.
Look: a squirrel with a red belly, tough tree fences,
the large leaves of the poor man's umbrella.
Papaya trees will not be as you expect,
thin and tall, shadeless rows running for miles.
The banana flower will be a bulbous
Play-Doh thing. See there: sugar cane.
Try wringing it out, taste the sweet juice
before the bees get it. And the Jesus Iguana,
see him walking on water. He loves the lagoons.
Shhh, stop here. Put your arms up, there is a Jaguar
close. Don't take photos. He comes for sea turtles
but will eat you too. Back away. Feel that scuttling?
There are hundreds of tunnels under our feet
carved by blue and red crabs. Their sink holes
can swallow us. Drink this: coconut milk so cold
you'll never be thirsty again. Squint your eyes
towards the sun, see the Angel Trumpets hanging,
harvested by grandmothers to make sleep
for their grandchildren. Hear those padding feet?
The Coati is coming. He is curious about you —
rustle these dried sticks and he will get close. Don't worry:
he's big but won't bite. And now take a moment to gaze,
surrounded by blossoms, plump and vibrant as jewels,
at the Ficus trees, growing over and into each other
for centuries. Take comfort. Know that everything
here will live on when we're dead, held to the swing
of the Motmot's pendulum tail.

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