Sonnet for the 25th Wedding Anniversary
by Carolyn Martin
She came to me in the rain.
—James Wright, “Sappho”
What a silly thing to do, this Memory
without umbrella or boots, slipping through
the drenching afternoon, reminding me
of early loves I filed away. A few
titled puppy-ish lined with clipped good-byes,
slamming doors, words enraged, hope-shatterings.
A few six-month-stands that did not thrive
in spite of spellbound lips and shudderings
I grew addicted to. One commitment failed.
One if-only. One might-have-been—preludes
to today. Bemused I stroll through fields
of dripping irises with gratitude
to all my left-behinds. Memory sighs,
See. Nothing is appraised the same way twice.
I think every judge speaks to how difficult it is to select poems for a contest. I can only say it again… this was DIFFICULT. The quality of the sonnet submissions was extremely high. Getting down to ten was rough. Going for the final six made me a little nutty. I had to read the final poems at least 20 times to make the final call. I was extremely impressed by the language choice, imagery, and slant rhymes. Many of these poems were an “expansion” of the sonnet while holding true to the form. It was a pleasure to read everything submitted in this contest. All of the finalists pushed the formality and expression. The winning poems showed a daring in theme. Wildly varying, these sonnets were an expression of longing, nature, modern life, and frustration. The sonnet (even when taken to a contemporary level) is a tight form with very little room to maneuver. Fourteen little lines packed a ferocious punch in this contest. I was lost in each of these poems, and the most successful sonnets almost hid themselves. The language concealed the form, and I adored that.
From Assistant Professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including Stirring, CALYX, Persimmon Tree, How Higher Education Feels, and Antiphon. Her third collection, Thin Places, was released by Kelsay Books in 2017.