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.
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
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
touching his face with those same
Seeing tears form in her dark, dark
he asks: “Why so sad?”
“Because you are shrinking.”
“But I am not sad,” Grandfather
“Because you are growing.”
–Jacqueline Seewald, Fort Lee, New Jersey
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
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
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
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