2015 Winona Area Winners

Day (Housesitting Sonnet)

The day itself is my desire…—Bronk

Love, it wasn’t their house itself. Or not
Exactly. I’d been longing for the time alone,
The quiet among needlepointed cushions
And wreaths of withies and statice, a fussy cat,
A sad, stumbling Doberman (that wouldn’t eat
Unless told to) my only charges. Pen-
And-ink sketches—from life—of battling stallions,
Wallpaper that ringed the nursery in Polly put
The kettle on—Troubling? Night, I read
Or played piano. Day, below their pale
Headboard, I awoke alone: above the eves,
Or in their one Canadian cherry (now dead),
A mating jay in bliss’s anguish. Still,

They’d warned me not to let you in, love.

James S. McCormick
Rochester, MN

After Roethke’s “The Waking”

Right at the end, the grass finds its way back
to full-blast green, and dahlias blaze again—
red bright enough to burn through the glaze
of next week’s first hard frost? Not quite, so burnt
on memory’s film instead, at die-back’s brink.
Give us a smile, then, for the months ahead.
Juncos again fill the buckthorn thickets,
flicking their tails as if they’d never left:
stand-ins for the part of me that goes away
a while, avoiding summer’s sleepless heat.
Now dreams resume their layers on our bed,
laying in their stores before the wind and snow.
Let’s learn again the dance of the not-yet-dead
and yes, in dreaming, take our waking slow.

Scott F. Lowery
Rollingstone, MN

The First Vultures of Spring

I move the binoculars to my eyes,
look for the first sign of spring in the sky.
I have charted the day they return each year.
This year later than they should be I fear.
The snow has come and gone and come again,
now melting with the sun and warm west wind.
Then I see them. First one, then two, then thirty
Turning into an updraft, stunning and free,
tumbling together over the valley,
as if they’re praying some forgotten creed,
hovering momentarily over the field,
then diving on what the thaw has revealed.
Some say they’re a prophet of coming death.
To me, the sure sign of our spring’s first breath.

Mark Metzler
Winona, MN