2005 Winner’s Poem

Jamie Ross


Some pictures stay. The slip my daughter wears. Look,
my wedding dress. Her long dark sigh. The painter’s
wooden ladder. A long dark stretch from window
to this road. For years the rungs climb up; an instant’s
downward slide: scarves, combs, a mirror, the couple
finally breaking into moonlight and then gone. None

Of this today on the vacant rubbled causeway
that sluices from the minds. My father left this, as
his father did. As you will soon; your train whistling
behind. We wait along the tracks, all here do — blankets,
geese, sacks of salt and sugar, the crumbling haciendas,
stunted rows of thorn trees outlined by the frost. No

Winter comes to Pozos or the Balsas River that
does not wear a veil. Or the woven labor that shrouds
a man in sloughs, chopping lignite, the deep
cross-hatches that mark a closing door. So we mark
ourselves. As road splits the village, the ladder pulls the
wall. As you draw your future from a hidden room. In

The stories of Matthew, the burrow always awaits. The
burrow has come. And kneels bridled at the steps, with
a bundle wrapped in cloth. The bones are the body.
The wood is the soul. The fire can happen. Now

Go strike your match.
— 2005 Judged by Cornelius Eady