2016 Laureates’ Choice - Group Five
Between the land and sea—your song,
the moon you left behind to stir the waters even here.
My body, recalling those arms around us,
the sway of sea and dune grasses,
the hair and sand of bodies, yours and mine.
Ten years ago, a hundred years from now
the same shell notes will start each day.
And still this morning's music—wooden mallet
taps the hollows, bright strings shout and chime
as if the sea will never die and sun
will never swell to claim her child.
As if there is a shore between black night
and open water. As if the sundering never happened,
will not call to us again.
Mary Kay Rummel
The Truest Sentence That You Know
Is not the truest sentence that I know
a sentience more felt than known, a flood
of necessariness in mirrored throe
milk white on black translucent water, blood
that rushes of its own in channels set
before time known, a verdict hotly lined
hard in swampgrass and water elm, a fete
exotic in the water's mirror, twined
bare bodies wound like Venus' hair adrift
in marshcreeks, witness envious natures who,
themselves enamored, sense that would and if
they might exhibit so, they'd die (and do)?
I love you says, of course, this selfsame thing
In brief yet fullest, truest sentencing.
Sugar Grove, NC
Gold rings in place, we stroll beside the Seine.
Montmartre lunch, après Notre Dame tour.
The world stands still nine magnifique jours.
The clock strikes 12. Will we come back again?
Hearts to our grindstones. Chase less precious rings.
We scurry through the maze. Starbucked rat race.
Two houses merge into one cozy space.
A swollen belly changes everything.
Pink blankies, onesies, diapers, teething rings.
It's toymageddon! Chaos the new norm.
Her ballet slippers morph to cleats, and then...
Car dates, class rings, diploma, pack her things.
Six teary eyes outside a college dorm.
We're free to fly. But is there “back again?”
Chagrin Falls, OH
The train I’m on has risen from the earth.
Ailanthus grows between electric tracks
and barbed wire fence but smoking to the north:
a small abandoned picnic, empty Cokes.
I’d never come on foot and find the gap
but, if I did, I’d walk in Queen Anne’s lace
and green foxtails where all the grass is deep
and scarlet brambles start to be the woods.
My life would never find me. A man who smokes
a blue cigar has just passed me a note:
I need a loan to fix my father’s brakes,
two hundred, maybe three, until tonight.
I read it, hand it back, and shake my head.
Everyone is broke, he writes, or dead.
Silver Spring, MD
Damselfly wings folded in the briar
Royalty is passing with its schnauzers
Thick eyebrows and long hair on their muzzles
Straining urgently against their collars
Looking all the while like cursed courtiers
One wonders how they fell out of favor
Did they fail to please the queen as humans?
Did the king find others to amuse him?
Tongues lolling, scrota dragging on the ground
Now they are naked engines of desire
More despised than old eunuchs in the choir
Or chattel slaves or prisoners of war
Who are not the authors of their own fate
The hardest fall is for the would be great.