HeartWood Broadside Series 2018 Winner
Trillium by Tracy Seffers
Gratitude to this year's judge: Ron Houchin
“It has been a long time since I've read a memorable poem. I fear that social media has made the disposable rant the replacement for poetry, for even in my favorite journals what passes for poetry is the trivial or social complaint or comment that I can't help but say, "Yes, I agree, but where's the poetry, the element that will make it go beyond itself and the moment." Well, now I have read a more memorable poem that I think matters. It is my choice for the best of the broadside poems sent me: "Trillium." It was haunting...its originality about a somewhat used topic only served to make it more outstanding.” - Ron Houchin
I cannot unsee them, the ragged cast-off underwear, soaked by rain,
fully indwelt by now, home to pillbugs, beetles, delicate fungi.
I cannot unsee it, the small canister of cheap cologne rusting beneath a clot
of plastic bags and fetid socks half-decayed into dirt. Lucky You, it says.
I cannot unsee her, in that place where my mind wanders derelict and willful,
halo of dark tangled hair spread over a pillow of rotted leaves, a disheveled crown
marking her queen of this musk-laden night. She stares up through vine-choked
sycamore to lock eyes--not with whatever lover ruts drunkenly upon her body--
but with the moon, high and untouched by the damp humus now soaking
into her last clean shirt—just another piece to be cast off in these woods--
easier to throw away than to find a place to wash--thus with used wipes, tampons,
condoms; and of course the underwear, crusted with old blood and semen and shit—
tossed aside, at best covered over with leaves. Gloved, I lever them up with a stick,
deposit them in the bag that I will leave, tightly knotted, by this potholed roadside
for some other to take away. But I cannot unsee that moon in her eyes, or the clean
river blue of the trillium, perfectly content among the beer bottles and egg cartons,
fully native to this squalor, blooms intense and vagrant in places no one sees, an offering
to lost and cast-off girls, to this wandering road, to the river and the moon drowned in it.
Tracy lives with her family on the banks of the Shenandoah River, under the shadow of the Blue Ridge. She serves as the registrar for Shepherd University, and is coordinator of a local chapter of Team River Runner, a national non-profit serving veterans in recovery from the wounds of combat, visible and invisible.
Her poetry has been featured in reading events through the Jefferson County WV Arts Council and in West Virginia Writers podcasts; and published in regional literary journals such as Bluestone Review, Backbone Mountain Review, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel Literary Journal, the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and in online journals including Still: The Journal and Assisi: an Online Journal of Arts and Letters. She attended the 2013 Appalachian Writer’s Workshop at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky.