“Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge,” wrote Wordsworth. Our Twelfth Annual Poetry Contest opens May 12, and every day leading up to the contest we’re offering a poem from our Archive to inspire and enliven the connections between us all.
Don’t move even if earth and heaven quake.
I am suspicious of any kiss that hisses.
If light comes late, then every eye is historical.
2019 Whiting Award
I am a woman the same way my father is a man.
Every room came furnished half-real & dead.
Think of angels, then think their opposite.
Moments like this, I remember what I hate about sleep.
Here is a glass, he said. Pretend it isn’t empty.
You can replace an animal but not its nature.
I can hardly believe that dancer’s willow ripple was my torso.
Hearing them coughing in the hall, you rose from your desk.
Better to stroke the beast than to hit it.
Forgiving was the only option for my survival.
What really got them after relocation were the snakes.
What was that song you invented to lull him to sleep?
By the river, blood is the only thing that knows no tribe.
Each time I write hope, the letters fray and scatter.
Their shrill cries sound announcing appetite.
Her older brother got her suspended from my life.
This is the day when the saints all go silently to church.
My aunt held a fish as if holding the Holy Body.
I’ve told you time is a language I don’t speak.
I feel bound to your body the gray-dry skin of you.
I am grateful we fight over how to chop the garlic.
Our fathers sit looking as mean as we knew them to be.
This is a praise song for the mother who sat down beside me.
Don’t let me lose the wonder of your eyes, unblinking.
I can feel the trees & dodging animals trying to speak.
Casting back eight years, we entwine.