I kissed a tree

by Alison Armstrong-Webber
The Waters
Third Place, August 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen


remember, in May,
the rough crack bark
of a certain tree?
Mari?

My mittened hand
was a furred glyph,
on the scarred runnels
of a certain tree.

How I loved thee.
The small, carmine roses
that overhung the walkway, for days,
all scissored

the lamentation
of steel ribs
in the water garden,
the overturned
rebuke: canoe

the bent aluminium
bullrushes.

How we all
brushed past
one another,

the night
of a blood moon
in late July.
And we did not know

how great
was our
laughing
jiggling
peace

and our
silence
– in which I kissed
a Tweedsmuir tree –
was the self same.


In this poem addressed to “Mari,” there are earfuls (“scarred runnels,” “scissored” roses) that underscore the “lamentation.” The reader eavesdrops on the memory of a summer, the beloved “certain tree” among edenic images of “ribs,” a “water garden.” In the tension between “laughing”/”jiggling”/”peace” and what was “brushed past,” what “we did not know,” the poem rises, returning to the certainty of the kiss, the tree. The self that is the “same.” --Kathleen Hellen

  • 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