Posted December 4, 2019.

2019 Fall Contest Winner: Theme—Our Common Life, 3rd Place


by Stephanie Striffler

you and I pick our way through tsunami

debris    claws of bare tree up-ended    tires   Harley

Davidson  soccer ball

        the task has fallen to us

an ocean away   to fill

bags with ragged styrofoam remnants   forever

undegradable   oyster farm buoys stamped

with undecipherable characters   carried

from a disaster more than a year


you can’t say one word

face blank as sand expanse scrubbed

raw by high tide

         just as once you burrowed

into the couch in pajamas

a tiny sand crab   almost safe

from waves of father rage   ashtray

teapot   phonebook   flung over

head through decades of North

Dakota snows   generations of silent Scottish

chill   crashed against the wall

    how is it

the task has fallen to me

to reach for your hand as you hoist

your weight over this Shinto

shrine beam heaved by an earthquake

the other side of the world

but after all

isn’t it all one ocean?

Judge’s comments:

This poet captured a “real” moment in time between a grandmother and her grandchild. Who among us hasn’t noticed how hands change as we age? And how do you explain these changes to a child without provoking confusion or dread? The answer is contained in their exchange which, above all, is sweet and could be universal.

—Toni Lumbrazo Luna

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.