Posted May 16, 2018.

2018 Spring Contest Winner: 2nd Place, Poet’s Choice

Fishing Indian Creek

by Marri Champié

 

            Across vast prairie a train slants away;

            I hear it whistle at Indian Creek Bridge.

 

I cannot sleep for fish dreams,

glittering smolt like tears on a stringer.

 

            You stepped across pools sailed with golden leaves

            each rock a metronome for years clouded

            over a creekflow of small wishes,

            your reflection sunken like colored stones.

 

If I were to angle this hole alone, would Fall be mirrored there?

Or the reflection of hard blue sky unbroken by your snaking flyline?

 

            At breakfast, you reached across this table

            to open my starving fists

            and place a gasping cutthroat in my left palm,

            a story in my right.

 

Brilliant fish flutter in my throat,

slippery prey with secret voices.

 

            When we were young, you and I collected treasures

            from a crush of sand and stood at the flood’s high line

            to shorecomb the wasted—by afternoon, the true nuggets

            had slipped out through the gaps in the wicker creel.

 

Bootsoles separate each step from cold sand

grained from bones into a long shore where storms treat nothing kindly.

 

            Fishermen are superstitious of their souls

            if something that sings is netted.

            I dip the net into the pool

            but can only catch my face.

 

Darkfall drapes the prairie like a shawl.  My voice cannot walk

Indian Creek alone, my fingers cannot rewind the unspooled line.

 

Judge’s comments

The poets of Oregon have so much to say to the world. They see a frayed time and write to patch the tears. They see intolerance and write to flip hatred the bird. Or they see the immense scope of the universe and write to zoom out and humble us with a reminder of its grandeur. Still others see the preciousness in the simplest moments and write to freeze those memories in polished amber. The best of this incredible bunch not only respond to the world in which we live, but create their own in the span of 80 lines or less. No small feat. But that’s the miracle of language and that’s why I hope every single one of these poets keep blessing us with their words.

—Armin Tolentino

 

Pushcart nominated for poetry in 2015, Marri Champie degreed in Writing, photography and Earth Science, won three Dell Awards for Fantasy/Science Fiction, and the 2013 Boise State University President’s Writing Award in fiction and poetry. Her novel Silverhorn released from Kasva Press in 2017. Her work has appeared in Cicada, ROAR, Tishman Review, HOD, Blue Cubicle Press, Abyss & Apex, Boise Weekly, Writers Rising Up!, Standing, Rat’s Ass Review, Outrider Press, IdahoLife, Fiftiness, and others. She works as a freelance photo/journalist and wildfire support driver, and lives on a small ranch overlooking the Great Basin of Idaho with her horses and Jack Russell terriers, who help her with her writing. Website: WriteIdahoWriter.com

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