by Anna Yin
Pen Shells
First Place, October 2009
Judged by Majid Naficy

You don’t pray for rain in mountains.
It comes and goes as if to home.
The soil is forever soft to preserve its depth.
Leaves unfold themselves to hold each drop.
Sometimes rain wanders in clouds,
others it runs into rising streams.
At the end of each cycle, you always hear it singing
all the way home, kissing leaves, tapping trees.
Still, some drops stay longer on the tall branches
until the sky clears.
All of a sudden, a wind blows,
they let go –
A light shower surprises you
sitting motionless
under a phoenix tree.

When I read this poem, I immediately knew that it would be my first choice. That's how beauty presents itself. The poem begins with a strong statement that rain frequents the mountain as if the mountain is its home, and ends with an unexpected experience caused by the rain. --Majid Naficy