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2023 Poetry

FIRST PRIZE

Settling into the Hush of a December Evening                                                                       by Marsha Meyer

Now that the maple leaves and walnuts are heaped

into the woodlot, spent hostas bent over their

stems, suet hung for the cardinals and juncos

bulbs, frogs and worms cocooned under a quilt

of ice crystals,

no more buzz of myriad blades, worts and weeds

barging into trembling balloon flowers, caressing

day lilies, wrapping around iris, incessant philanderers

cluttering the garden with their tenacity, their wisdom-

woven history.

Now that the petals, tangle foliage, cacophony of colors

have hunkered into the soil, hugged their roots, waiting

for their riotous awakening, their pop into spring,

she savors the stillchill snow-flecked dusk, watches

the skinny stray cat skitter into the pines, wishes

it would eat the food she put out.

She follows the early dark inside its hush.

Linden leaves cup the sky.  Chiaroscuro

highlights the moon's caress, snowglows

a path home where barley soup bubbles,

sourdough bread rises, and apple crisp cools.

The light blinks out in the studio. Michael is done

for the day. He goes the long way round the house

to look for deer, listen for the cooper hawks, detect

the quiet sting of snow predicted for early evening.

SECOND PRIZE

Earth Borne                   by Christine L. Parks

        How do I love thee?

                      Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Let me tell the ways, uncounted, diverse

as the life you hold, forms you take - eagle

and egret, panther and porpoise, balsam

and birch, milkweed and monarch - now a

single snowflake falling amidst a blizzard

clothing the bare bones of autumn's remains.

Now sunrise, dragging all the hues of

morning up the sky, then setting sun pulling

all the shades of evening beneath horizon

edges until only the vast universe comes

visible one light at a time. I love

you in all your peculiarity - gecko and

giraffe, aardvark and avocado - humus

and humans, all born from your womb.

THIRD PRIZE 

In the woods              by Kenneth W. Arthur

I tread carefully in fading light,

not wanting to disturb the spirits

that rule this place. The wind rustles leaves

overhead. A gang of chickadees

flitters branch to branch in a nearby

bush. Over my shoulder a squirrel

chatters, asking why I'm standing here

next to his tree. Or maybe that's

my question. In the underbrush,

a soft rustle the only warning,

a porcupine ambles by, about 

its business as if I were some stump

it hadn't noticed before. Far off

crunch of dead leaves heralds arrival 

of three young bucks trekking down the ridge,

pausing here and there to nibble shrubs.

Everything in its element,

iike when I embrace my love

and don't want to let go

because I feel safe and complete,

or when I stare at Lake Michigan's

endless horizon and feel enlarged

instead of belittled by its immensity

as if I could close my eyes and expand

to fill the universe. Like I feel

right now in this forest as I smile,

breathe deeply, and walk on slowly

so as not to disturb these other parts of myself.

ARTISTS and POETS were invited

to submit work on the theme:     

              EcoWisdom   

MANY THANKS

to our 2023 poetry juror Marion Starling Boyer,

and to all the participating poets!

HONORABLE MENTION

Of Lemonade and Whiskey Sour       by Jane Wheeler

Ghosts of the old hive -

bees that emerged on a short-sleeve Christmas

but failed to rise at Easter-

whisper to the new queen

as her three pound swam settles

into frames of still capped honey -

last year's combs

murmuring keys to the treasure - 

pollen and nectar to be sipped

from maple groves, pastures of cover

and the loosestrife growing beside the fence.

HONORABLE MENTION

And I Feel Lighter Afterwards          by Kathleen McGookey

The dried milkweed pod, partially split, sways, leaking a few puffs

into the warm October wind. I crack it open and release a hundred

silky parachutes. Some whirl straight up, some tangle in weeks near

my feet, and some reluctantly leave my chapped fingers. Their

shadowy kisses brush my cheek.

More Poetry
 We have created a book that includes all 2023 poems submitted as well as pictures of the art from the exhibit.  The book is available at the church.  

HONORABLE MENTION

The Lass and the Locusts       by Mary Doud

In 1956, my ninth summer,

17-year locusts invaded. The

incessant drone revved up at

dawn and held forth long past

sundown. Inescapable, screechy

white noise. A pitchy tinnitus that

spared not one hearing person.

Grotesque, ugly insects with

bulgy red eyes, thin-veined wings,

torsos two inches ong. They

cross-cut the air in billowy 

bands, looping brashly around

humans as if to contest the

terrain's true ownership.

Down the bank below my house

snaked a rough, rutty trail my

brother and I dubbed the

"butterfly bumblebee path."

We cavorted side-by-side with 

known insects, sharing the

habitat gladly. The locusts were

intruders - a scary new order.

When a trio dove into my hair and

buzzed in unison, I shrieked, retreated

to my bedroom, feigned illness for days.

At the peak of my meltdown came

Uncle Erwin -  a formal and stern

science teacher. He learned of 

my bug-induced trauma and vowed

to fix me. "Come with me, lass,

he beckoned, leading me to the yard. He

plucked a locust from a honeysuckle

bush and wove a riveting story.

Our locusts were not locusts, but in

fact, periodical cicadas- a different 

species. After 17 years of growth

underground, they tunnel upward and

emerge in throngs at dusk. Males

dash to adulthood, fly to treetops and

croon a mix of courtship songs.

Females flick their wings in coy

reply. Thousands of cicadas

couple in high, sunlit branches. Each

female scrapes notches in bark; lays

dozens of eggs. After some weeks,

eggs hatch, nymphs drop to the

ground, burrow under, find roots for

feeding, and lie dormant for 17 years.

Uncle Erwin showed me the ivory-like

plates on the insect's underside.

Strumming the plates with hind legs

makes a rhythmic, chirpy sound. Each

cicada's chant is syncopated, but when

vast numbers thrum together,

humans hear a ceaseless whir.

From my 20-minute biology lesson, I

came away renewed and unafraid.

From that day until the cicadas'

residence ended, I became a kindred

spirit. Most days I gathered a few to

commune a bit, then release. I helped

friends shed their fright by sharing a

short version of my uncle's lecture.

I was proud to spread his wise tale.

After leaving my hometown, for 65

years I never saw another cicada. In

June 2021 on a drive through Ohio, a

swarm of cicadas pelted our windshield 

like hail. When the traffic slowed, a

 single insect nestled at the base of the 

window beside me. I stroked the gladd

between us...remembering. The cicada

hung on, rode with us for 50 miles.

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