Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest Winners

By Lynette K. Allen

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    Disciples at Gennesaret

    First Place
    Late in the day, the wind comes down
    And wails across the Sea of Galilee.
    Lashing grasses on the hills,
    It lunges past the rocks
    And slashes,
    Wave from wave,
    Into a churning deep.
    Men have been known to perish
    In these evening storms;
    But some,
    While sinking in the perilous depths,
    Have reached,
    And lived.
    Those who know of fishing
    Pull their nets and wait
    Until the waters heal—
    Until the wind falls off,
    Sighing out across the desert,
    Searching for the soothing Voice.

    Harvester: Elder Kovila from Kenya

    Second Place
    In mundane measures he speaks
    Of factory, farm, and city where
    The day-to-day of life is manufactured
    In plain words that speak of Here but
    Ah! his narrow hands beat out
    The stresses of a different weaving
    In accents of lion-colored grasses
    Undulating with sun and drums.
    There the ebony shining faces begin
    To sing, waiting in white fields.


    Honorable Mention
    The lampglow
    on my daughter’s blonde hair
    forms a halo
    where she reads across the table,
    the grain of oakwood between us
    spiraled like galaxies and polished
    to hold the light.
    To hold the light
    in these late hours we have our lamps
    and books. She reads from a New Testament
    and I from The Art of Rembrandt,
    his paintings have drawn me
    by their use of light and shadow:
    Aristotle, Christ, Jacob Blessing
    the Sons of Joseph—always
    the light coming from the right,
    “… man’s more sacred side.”
    “Man’s more sacred side.”
    Is that what we fail as we hurl ourselves
    through life? In the portraits
    of Rembrandt, the light honors
    what is human and what is God-like,
    accepting a place where they meet,
    his later biblical paintings
    all completed, uncommissioned,
    out of his own need.
    Out of our own need,
    in this Sabbath between the closing leaves
    of prayer plants and the pale
    blossoming of sleep, we read,
    my daughter and I,
    finding again the Word …


    Third Place
    Perhaps he then returned
    At thirty-one or -two,
    His tall frame stopping sunlight at the door,
    Familiar shadow on familiar wall.
    But she’d have sensed him there
    Before she saw
    And, thanking God,
    Abandoned wheel or loom or bowl
    To fling herself into his arms,
    Then hold him back,
    At arms’ length,
    To satisfy her soul.
    And she’d have seen
    The whole, and more:
    Sandals layered thick
    With dust of untold steps,
    Unknown towns;
    Shoulders stooped a bit,
    with short-cropped nails
    And craftsman’s square utility,
    Unmarked (what had the dream been, then?)
    Except for memory
    Of plane and saw
    Or childhood scrape;
    And eyes of weary wisdom,
    Warm compassion,
    Past and future pain,
    Of present love.
    I think she could not look for long.
    Then she’d have offered food
    and calm concern,
    And gently probed the aching months apart,
    His health, his heart—
    Savoring, hoarding every brief response
    Against the future drought
    Her love was powerless to stay.
    And he’d have left with lighter step
    And backward smile,
    As she stood
    In that empty place,
    Her last gift given,
    Her shoulders
    Stooped a bit,

    Man of Oslo

    Honorable Mention
    son of Opland’s
    for your faith’s choice—
    I can only guess
    at your heart’s aching
    as you stood there,
    hat in hand,
    as child
    after child
    left your side,
    leaving fjell and fjord
    and midnight sun,
    sailing out to
    new beginnings,
    taking on the name
    of immigrant
    in strange and arid
    and you remain.
    Father of my Father’s
    because of you
    I live in this far
    place of peace,
    and you sleep
    in Christiania.

    [illustration] Background derived from “The Israel I Love,” by Noel Calef. Used by permission.