Adult Category - 1st Place Winner

Greymouth, New Zealand

Late August we wandered, wine-lusted
with ideas, down the rails lined with stalks
of knapweed and anise, past the abandoned
train station with rows of broken windows
staring out like jagged eyes at an entropic
sky, star-rusted ceiling. Laid head-to-belly
by the lake we read poems by the samurai
Naoshige, who believed even if a warrior's
head should suddenly be cut off he should still
be able to perform one last act with certainty.

Later, in the flat iridescence of her room,
a laptop cycling her favourite songs,
we whispered about secret fears. Her terror
of balloons, the ecstatic helplessness of being
carried. How she had never been in love.
How she would never cry in front of me. 

Now, thousands of miles from every moment
kicked up by the reading of her letter. Slated sky
a sort of caution, hermetic industry of weather-
thunder rings like metal, heading west.

In an abandoned parking lot I smoke both cigarettes
the German kid gave me down to their filters.
Against a busted lamppost the shrunken husk
of a crow defies its own recognition, chewed up
by a stray dog and left, a mangled peel of skin
and feather. As I swathe the letter like a death-mask
over the remains the weight of the past wears down,
as if I've dragged it through reflection too many times.

This is how a severed limb must feel, the grief
that lies between each last act, questioning,
what is a wing without the heart of a bird?

~ by Jordan Mounteer