[“Dark Nipple of the Figs”]

by Ryan Laks
The Writer's Block
First Place, June 2014
Judged by R.T. Castleberry

The things we said, or chose not to; the way it happens
when the mind divides, makes an eye flinch. I know
as a door opens to a darker room you’ll find it is
a warm September evening. Sometimes we kissed
appetizing female forms in our mind. The way it happened
we heard my mother’s voice, we played frightening games
such as neverending. We were lonely and hapless and ordinary.
What is a gust of wind but the act of embrace?
What makes the dream the way it is, subtly aural
and finely positioned like your mouth: I am still
in bed, the drywall is my skin, your crumpled words
are a perturbed skeletal pattern adorned with molars
darned and huddled in, I suppose, for a process
in the time of history we never made specific.
Sometimes we heard the children crying in hunger
in our mind. We occupied ourselves with sufferings. A body
strolling away from you at some distance, once, twice,
or many times into the expanse of the heavens; your thigh,
dripping rosewater, insect wings, shadowed woods,
with a feeling of deep sadness that we had not fulfilled
our senses. Your head and face in particular. My hand
on your waist. When the temperature drops to the bottom
like the dandelion seeds of your breasts
it was pleasant to imagine I could see the queen of all
flowers already half-erased. You are sitting
at my kitchen table, tugging the spilled rice.
How can I tell you now, “my heart curls in sorrow
like autumn leaves.” And yet later, holding your shoulder,
how could I say “your kiss tastes of blood, or wellwater
flecked with rust?”

* * * * *

*Title and two lines from an Untitled poem by imaginary poet, Araki Yasusada

I was drawn to the imaginative density of the language, the surrealism and fresh imagery (Sometimes we kissed/ appetizing female forms in our mind./ The way it happened/we heard my mother's voice, we played frightening games/such as neverending.) And the way the poet held to a narrative line while dropping single lines (We occupied ourselves with sufferings.) that were complementary to the mood but pushed at the limits of narrative, was uniquely strong. Finally, the wit that took the title and two lines from an imaginary poet was clever and winning. --R.T. Castleberry