Poetry Contest Winners

By Nadine F. Neat

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    Equally Yoked

    1982 Poetry Contest 1st Place Winner
    You voiced it once, a teasing game,
    How that I could have had a better name
    By choosing differently to wed,
    Who knows, I might have been much better fed.
    I said I liked the skinny life.
    How could I be another husband’s wife?
    Laughter, yet our silence spoke of
    Needs beyond our language; not bread, not love.
    I could have been another’s wife,
    You teased, and walked in glory all my life.
    No humor made you feel you must
    Speak so, but shaded, tiptoed plea for trust.
    You think I could turn out the light
    Of vision? Love, it was, but also sight,
    In choosing you I stood to gain.
    No one expects a birth that’s free of pain.
    I have no hunger but to be
    So yoked. Our mortal straining makes us free
    To seek immortal judgment’s face
    As two who loved in trust, believed in grace.

    Khirbet Qumran:

    (Place of the Dead Sea Scolls)
    1982 Poetry Contest 2nd Place Winner
    1. Warm sandal clouds scuff
    The border around Qumran.
    Here, where old scrolls, holding lost summers,
    Have climbed from jars
    Like painted trilliums on a trellas,
    I sit among the cliffs and watch
    The crumbled walls form castle stones,
    Echoing a forgotten generation, a place
    Where modern men have invaded
    The muffled stillness. Each rock reveals
    Skilled hands and the diagnostic eye
    Of its creator.
    My eyes hunger to see the beginning,
    The quick heart-thrust of each saint
    Before time shut their sky.
    Here, wrapped in leather, lies the reflection
    Of many hearts, sparkling in the imagination
    Like old coins in a fountain.
    2. Out there where moonbeams creep,
    Men searched for doors that could be pried open
    Into lost desert sands where prophets trudged
    As by some holy design
    Wearing words within their soul
    That would become soft, haunting trumpets
    Unknown, unheard,
    Echoing in the stillness
    Until a boy unearthed their ancient sound.
    3. I touch the book that has become
    Wild mint in my mind,
    Holding the records of Qumran.
    Did they love the gospel too?
    As the ample journey of these souls progressed,
    Did they know the sweetness of service?
    Did they know the Lord?
    They wear no clarifying signatures,
    And yet they spread a taste of sweetness
    That will always dissolve familiar
    On our lips
    A honeycomb of bright joy.

    New Pioneer

    1982 Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest 1st Place Winner
    I don’t till the earth
    sweating under a new sun
    crying from blisters just begun
    all day
    six days
    because I was cast out of the Garden.
    I don’t flee my home
    sweating in an icy night
    fearful, thankful for my life
    all night
    one dreadful night
    because my neighbors drove me out.
    I don’t walk prairie miles
    sweating under desert sun
    choking dust behind wagons
    all day
    six days
    because my home is somewhere ahead.
    I don’t kneel, rocking my baby
    afraid, hoping he won’t die
    praying he will stay strong, alive
    all day
    seven days
    because he could die, like my last two did.
    I fight in Satan’s last battle
    for the spirit of each child
    holding hands with God
    all day
    every day.
    Our victory is Eternal.

    Jochebed and the Nile

    1982 Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest 2nd Place Winner
    She stood beside the river twice:
    At first her understanding of the plan
    could look toward the future
    as at those times, when looking south,
    she thought of waters of an endless clarity,
    as at those times her fingers,
    through the pitch, could clearly feel
    the pattern of papyrus for her son,
    child and ark the raw materials of the Pentateuch.
    The second time, while Moses
    toddled to delight the Pharaoh’s child,
    there was no design except the water
    in its flood when, brown and red,
    it took the land like sorrow,
    flushing fields and rows and plains,
    its future gifts awash
    in the streaming of the moment.