Meet the Winners of the 2015 Reader’s Digest Poetry Contest

We received over 4,800 entries from readers. In honor of #NationalPoetryMonth, we are pleased to present the four outstanding winners.

poetry contest coupleiStock/digitalskillet

Grand Prize

After the Death of Their Child

How the memory wormed its way

into a photograph, leaving only paper.

How he piloted ever-lengthening flights,

taking blue comfort away from earth

while she stayed home with the houseplants,

their assemblage of books,

the knowledge she could find tarragon,

sage, any herb she’d ever need.

How they said nothing, and loved

each other even in another’s arms.

How he steered forward, she stood still;

he spoke, and she wrote it down. And they watched

across miles, miles of marriage

as the small voice between them grew up.

(inspired by the story of Charles and Anne Lindbergh)

Jenny Land, Peacham, Vermont

poetry contest grandparentiStock/Geber86

First Prize

Ella: Of Infinite Possibilities

Wide-eyed in wonder,

Ella beholds the world.

“How old are you?”

her grandfather asks.

She holds up five fingers.

Ella traces her grandfather’s mosaic

of wrinkles,

touching his face with those same

five fingers.

Seeing tears form in her dark, dark


he asks: “Why so sad?”

“Because you are shrinking.”

“But I am not sad,” Grandfather


“Why not?”

“Because you are growing.”

Jacqueline Seewald, Fort Lee, New Jersey
poetry contest stockingsiStock/DawidMarkiewicz

Second Prize


The delicate cobwebbed stockings are scarred with stitches.

Fresh tears like flesh wounds gape at kneecap and heel from

a day of pounding pavement, waiting in soup kitchen queues.

They are soaked in the tin washtub, rinsed of the day’s grime

of sweat and silt and hung to dry, fluttering on the clothesline

or draped over a chair. The fading luxury of silk, her last pair.

Every night she attempts to repair the damage, to weave them

into wearability. Runs are scratched into silk, where they will

spread like the routes and rivers on a cartographer’s map. She

bathes her blistered, callused feet. Her bare legs are smudged

and soiled, her toenails the color of stone, her skin cracked and

leathery as old shoes. In the morning, she crosses legs sheathed

with spiderwebs, arranging her skirt to hide the latest darning.

Jessica Goody, Bluffton, South Carolina

poetry contest frogsiStock/IMPALASTOCK

Third Prize

Three Baby Frogs

Three baby frogs Grandma said not to


but we were only eight, and we

couldn’t wait to teach them tricks

so we dipped them in some paint.

We followed the little white dots into

the garden

where we found them resting by the

squash and leaning on the broccoli

and belly-up under the turnips with

remnants of our Picassos on their

tiny backs

and scared to death they’d peed on us

and Grandma would see

and know somehow we were

murderers, Jeannie and me.

Gwendolyn Poliszczuk, Madisonville, Kentucky

Read More:

Poems to Remind You of the Beauty of Nature

Teary-Eyed Poems on Love, Loss, and the Meaning of Life

Inspirational Poems to Warm Your Heart

Funny Poems to Perk Up Your Day

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