Fragile

by Kendall Witherspoon
The Waters
Second Place, June 2019
Judged by Melissa Studdard


After making love, she whispered
in my ear the start of his name.
We both ignored it, like it was
a mediocre glass of red wine, or
a fly on the bedroom window.

I thought it didn’t bother me,
together five years, almost,
but our life still fragile as a tomato
plant rushed to the April garden.
Later planting purple lettuce,

both of us tried to erase the slip
with the soil and sun we loved.
I had to, in my smart ass way,
ask if she knew I was not him.
She came to me, squatted

in the row, held my weak hand
and said I love you, and only
you. You believe that, right?
And I know she said you, but
I heard his name three times.


Operating within a beautiful economy of language, “Fragile” says so much and employs such fitting, easy-to-digest similes. By leaving out extended context, the poet creates an especially powerful last stanza that primes the reader to not want to believe the lover. This makes the last line, regardless of what is actually in the lover’s heart, ring like an incantation to truth. --Melissa Studdard

  • December 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Avaricious
      by Judy Kaber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      To James Bulger, aged 2, murdered February 1993
      by two boys aged 10 in Liverpool, England
      by Christopher T. George
      Babilu

      Third Place

      Dr. Pachango’s Mango
      by Jim Fowler
      Babliu

  • November 2020 Winners

    • First Place

      Notorious RBG
      by Laurie Byro
      Babilu

      Second Place

      To My Old Age
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Beggar’s Lice
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block