He heard about you but was too far
to kiss your fingers: water
between you while his wife
hummed into your hair.
While you were being born,
your mother knitting socks,
he was across the ocean taking
lives. This is the way
it works: her cradling you,
him cradling his rifle,
apologizing not for the lives he had given exit
but for the one whose entrance
he had missed.
This is war: wives weaving
and men making widows,
the lives collapsing
into one another, overlapping,
an infinite series of losses
You don’t, but she probably remembers
the first time he stood
in the door and looked in
at you. His shadow would have
blotted out the light from the hall,
but you slept, and probably welcomed
his cool darkness in your dreams.
Yesterday my friend cut
his 3 year long hair, trimmed
his beard too, then packaged it
in plastic for the place where
they make wigs for kids.
I was mostly astonished
at how simple it would be
to sweep it all into the waste bin.
Disgusted too, by the limp
hairs splayed across the kitchen
tile, guessing how many
it would take to match
those heaps at Auschwitz,
sheathed in glass
the length and depth of this room.
Blonde and brown molded together
but all graying, with life enough
inside, needing to decay.
Plaited once by mother’s hands,
fretted over as clumps clogged
the shower drain. Hair, that, even after
the shearing and scraping
was done, clings together,
leaves wrenched from stems by hands
so rough compared to my friend’s—
who first gathered the strands
in a smooth knot, clipped
the cord at such an angle
as you would a long-stemmed rose,
intent on preservation.
A bowl of rice passes around the hut
We only have a handful to share,
And we have none to spare.
It goes from father, to mother, to sister, to me.
We each take our share,
My portion, as small as two fingers.
But I can not help but notice a stranger,
This small stranger wanders through the village,
Unsure of his place, or where he should be.
We invite him in, and give him a place to sit.
I can split my rice,
One finger for each of us.
For one moment in time, we created our own peace.
by Alexandra S. Timmer Honorable Mention
Start with a perfectly square sheet of paper for waking a sleeping giant;
Fold one edge to meet the other for the nations who shared the sides of a bitter vendetta;
Flip the square for a sinister cloud that rose above the heavens;
Crease the corners for a melted city once engulfed in light.
Open up the paper for the blistering ash that rained down upon the streets;
Form the head for the austere procession of the scorched in the wake of the aftermath;
Gently pull the wings apart for a small girl who made a vain wish on colored sheets;
Now behold a small red paper crane for a hopeful future.
The sun sets at 8 p.m.
Shadows grow and swallow the land and
the gentle drops of rain cleanse my soul.
I take my ocarina and play the song of night.
The foxes howl with sorrow, the wolves cry with hunger,
The coyotes sing their loneliness.
The ocarina’s chimes mix with the song of the canines.
We all cease with sadness, knowing day has come.
I flee to home
And wait for sunset so I can do it yet again.