Ode to What Settles

by Toni Clark
The Waters
Third Place, August 2011
Judged by Tyehimba Jess


What settles is what stays

after the transience of houses
after the horses and the boulders

particles, dust and ash, leaves
and water after the wind’s ruffling.

The fog in the valley, mist on the pond.

What’s left when the rest has burned
or blown, what drifts toward twilight.

And after the chaos of yellow windows,
evening deep into the hills.

The silence when you open the door
to an empty sky, the sparrow on its bare branch.

Our rooms late in the day, creaking
and sighing, the rocker coming to rest

sediment in the bottle, the last
of the wine in the glass

our bodies gone quiet beneath the blanket,
lives into a pattern, knowledge into the bone.


Ode to what settles meditates on the all that we are, from the dust to the sound of the bed to the drift toward mortality. The author knows balance and tone and risk. ---Tyehimba Jess

  • January 2019 Winners

    • First Place

      How the Wind Works
      by Alison Armstrong-Webber
      The Waters

      Second Place

      Sleep Walker
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells

      Third Place

      The Woman Who Grew up in My House Finds Me on Facebook and Comes to Take a Look Around
      by Antonia Clark
      The Waters

  • December 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Tires
      by Kenny A. Chaffin
      Babilu

      Second Place

      Scouring Pots While the World Ends
      by Elizabeth Koopman
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Third Place

      Poetry in the Cultural Revolution
      by Bob Bradshaw
      The Waters