2008 First Prize
You can open your eyes now.
I was born onto unsteady ships,
Born under two tilting masts,
Born knowing how to steer
This piece of wreckage through the salt.
In a moment we will crystallize like lightning.
Until then we are fragile, hold still.
Watch out for the women in the water
They will tell you they used to be birds.
They will show you their feet,
Splayed, clawed proof
And promise they can give you wings
If only you let go and fall into iris oblivion.
How many times have I almost gone to Sirens?
Surely someday we will come upon an island,
Detach ourselves from the strangeness of this vessel
And learn the steadiness of land the way
We’ve come to know the brief, authoritative arc of waves.
We will discover what it means to be sturdy,
What it means to recognize the same low horizon
Morning, after morning,
The pattern in the erratic origins of leaves.
There is this and only this.
One day there will be no more water to cross,
We will have reached a point of grace,
Of flickering silver.
Tragedy will have no more boldness in this place.