Four winning entries: Poems for the Earth contest

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Photo Courtesy of Grace Sleeman

GRACE SLEEMAN

Malachi

The bees let me pet them
if I was patient.

If I sat by the lavender gardens
long enough,
they would crawl over my skin —

fat golden tufts of summer warmth,
humming songs only I could hear
and I hummed back.

KATIE L. PRIOR

Photo Courtesy of Katie Prior

North Atlantic Bird Sanctuary

I know the rhythm of this place
arcadian abundance seaweed jackets

on wet tar slick tidal pool optics of a mirror
a barnacle is a home on its own accord

albatross flies alongside cormorants
in almost darkness light so obscured

every parallel line echoes a glimpse of the
heaven layer of the skies a brook warbling above

low-level clouds leaking through to this
terrestrial plane it always rains like this in my poems

it falls into my eyes cleans out irises
green-gray as underbellies of migratory geese

sea-run salmon carry my nerves upstream
as they soar through bear claws worries on

their glittering backs the glint of mineral
flickering beneath rapids that lead to estuary

reaching upwards weatherbeaten thorns
strangle beach rose naked from a late autumn

that shed the summer skin sometimes the distance
to the past expands like my own living lungs

uncommonly warm air follows me through
channels and caverns like it knew the way

it feels like snow through waterlogged ears I hear
it lingering beyond the craggy outlook battered by the sea.

GRETTA BUCKLEY

Photo Courtesy of Gretta Buckley

Symbiosis

On the beach in winter I give–
to bitter stones, all the warmth
from my raw hands.
I lift them from the frozen sand,
press each between my palms
and return them warm,
to the glacial sea-foam gathering
round my boots.

All the while, the sea gives.
Sapphire waves evaporate,
surrender water droplets to the clouds
that float like a pod of gray whales
over the coastline.

Somewhere the clouds will dissolve
and it will snow on a mountain top
frosting evergreens and laying
the forest to sleep under a sheet,
threaded with tiny, crystalized tides.

In spring, the mountain will melt.
And ocean of winter will sink through the soil,
trickle down crevices in a cliffside,
soak dead leaves and brittle roots,
soften a sleeping pathway.

The melted snow,
borrowed clouds
made of borrowed sea,
will roll in rivers back to the shore
and I’ll go to the beach
without my boots.

On the beach in spring I’ll take–
the warmth of captive sunlight
from a hot stone at my feet.
I’ll lift it to my cheek,
let its heat tingle
across my pores, and wonder
of all gifts one day
returned, well worn by the seasons
ready to give once more.

MEGAN K. BENNETT

Photo Courtesy of Megan Bennett

Monarch

Are We Watching the End of the Monarch Butterfly?
–The New York Times, January 25, 2019

scientists watch the skies
searching for orange
and black winged fairies

coughing through smoke and flame
the attack burns down
the length of the Pacific

even the salt has dried up
and the frost
in the South has licked

the bodies of white bears
all too often
and the people continue

to cast thick grease
into the seven and five
pumping petrol

into the heavens
and rolling steel
across homes

like the swift hand of a lady
swatting a bee
that has come too close

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