Tuesday, April 18, 2006
I almost deleted the message on the answering machine as I didn't recognize the caller's name at the beginning of the call. Incredulity followed as someone from the Heritage House Museum in Key West, Florida informed me that my poem, "Pruning", was being awarded 3rd prize in the 2006 Robert Frost Poetry Contest. Please indulge my public exaltation. For this small-town kid, one of seven children and a lackluster student - this is a rather big day.
Pruning is such a delicate matter,
as we choose what must relinquish the right
to remain aloft and cling to the ladder
of the arbor where the squabbling jays natter,
about their perches for the night.
It’s the space you cleave between the branch
and the trellised bark - you know will bleed.
You watch your questioning knuckles blanch
with the hope you’ve measured beyond mere chance
as required by the gardener’s creed
in the dog-eared books which try to say
about the choices a man must make,
as to what must go and what may stay,
to love the light for another day.
The pruner knows his hands’ mistake
will leave the roots beneath his job,
making their peace with the fool in the air,
judging his work while his temples throb,
as he stifles regret with a tight-throated sob,
about the error for the things in his care.