Posted May 15, 2018.

2018 Spring Contest Winner: 3rd Place, Poet’s Choice

Persephone

by Carol Clark Williams

 

Foolish child, despite her mother’s

wild-eyed searching and entreating,

she was enticed into eating what she should not

while the people above her

starved and prayed, and Demeter

moved earth and Sun to

bring her daughter home.

 

Like Eve, who fed

on fruit with cyanide seeds,

she returned, but with

blood colored kernels

caught in her stained throat;

not wayward, just hungry,

as she had always been.

 

And when she returned with

a bitter taste in her mouth

trace of what her mother sowed,

feared and forbade, she came

—unlike poor orphan Eve—back to her mother

who was standing in the doorway,

at once opening and blocking the way home,

 

welcome stretched thin on her lips

and How shall I cope?

What have you done this time?

glaring from her wild, sun-dazzled eyes.

 

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

 

Carol Clark Williams is poet laureate emeritus of York, Pennsylvania, and a founder of the “Poetry Spoken Here” readings for the open-air Yorkfest arts festival. She teaches poetry workshops for high school students, senior centers, support groups, and residents of institutions. Carol’s poems have been published in print and online journals including Mad Poets Review, Margie, Byline, The Pedestal, and Bent Pin Quarterly.

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