I Used to Miss My Tail

by Alison Armstrong-Webber
The Waters
Third Place, December 2012
Judged by Polina Barskova

the pride it must have taken,
in gristle and sway,

its pure muscle, and fine linkage,
finer than all the goldwork

fabrications. The way it was
so simply pelted, quietly

celebratory, over nothing at all,
empty of all that was unseemly

a reed at home
in a world of void.

How seamlessly it was attached!
Nothing extraneous, or showy,

the tail always behind me, as
a good tail ought to be.

Only occasionally did it rear up,
pull back against itself,

then arch out, sinuously,
a slight pain at the s-tip a show of love

of loon woman, with her neck
pinned back.

Or naga-style as when it spread
its sunlike rays in the manner of the sacred

umbrella of Mucalinda, that hooded
Siddhartha, that long night

he battled Mara,
never batting an eye. Respect

the tail, the tail said, as you would
a serpent. It doesn’t matter

that it’s no longer here.

This poem strikes one thru combination of its intonations/registers: it starts as absurd/funny little thing and then grows into grotesque magic vision--never becoming heavy, too serious. It's a masterpiece of a serious play --Polina Barskova

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