by Ken Ashworth
The Writer's Block
Second Place, November 2017
Judged by Michael Larrain

She bore the days
trailing from her waist
like a child’s paper chain

the way the moon
indentures the waves:
night after night
dragged by the hair across
a sea that rocks
its dead like a mother.

When she’d had enough
She slipped into the tub,
and closed her eyes
For the last time against

The same mad grief
they say made God
drown the world.

This poem is no less painful for being so very gentle. Its tenderness is conveyed in short, beautifully broken lines, a tide rising and falling within it. A man could grow a maternal instinct, could almost become a mother merely by reading it. I lost my own mother early on. She died by her own hand. So might perhaps relate to this piece more readily than other readers. But I cannot imagine anyone encountering it and not being moved. The author has accomplished one of the great purposes of both poetry and prose fiction: to widen the range of our sympathies, and deepen our sensibilities thereby. --Michael Larrain