HeartWood Broadside Series 2017 Winner
Willow by Catherine Stearns
Gratitude to this year's judge: Maggie Anderson
"'Willow' has all the ingredients of a really great poem: sound, image, story and mystery. The poet creates the immediate scene and the interrogatives and repeated phrases gently guide the narrative. And at the end: the 'child' of the second stanza reappears as the 'willow' of the title. This is beautiful, memorable work."-Maggie Anderson, 2017 Judge
Long slow light
unbraids over the river.
I lean over my green canoe,
drawing my hand through the water
as through a child’s bright cloud of hair.
Colder at bottom, I think, through this light
darkness grows, and pretty soon I worry
Have I drawn my oar far enough—have I? have I?
while over the river still
long slow light.
Why say hand when we mean wind?
Give me a hand when the wind
shakes the crown all the way down.
Why say skin, when we mean earth,
dirt, clay, ground elder?
Blood, when we mean ocean,
river, water bodies visible
in our own deep flood?
Child, when we mean willow
dancing yellow on the bank.
A long-time teacher of literature and writing, Catherine Stearns is Writer-in-Residence at The Roxbury Latin School in Boston. She lives on the Charles River in South Natick, Massachusetts.