Sleep Walker

by Brenda Levy Tate
Second Place, January 2019
Judged by Ruth Bavetta

The Milky Way runs dry and fades behind
a wool of overcast – close-hung for nights
and noons and nights again. I wouldn’t mind
if on this trek, I had no need of lights
but such is not the case right now. The sky
brings everything – a solace and a shield
against this bitter earth, against the cry
that rises thin and crystal from my field
where snow has frozen hope. I follow deer
because they travel crooked trails – like mine –
just paths through spruces. Should the stars appear,
I’d navigate by looking up – their shine
my guide. But no stars mark the map ahead.
Perhaps I’ve dreamed them all. Perhaps they’re dead.

Our fascination with the sonnet has wound through western poetry for hundreds of year and still remains undiminished. The form tempts us with the honey of the consciously “poetic.” It takes poets committed to the life and language of their own times to resist the lure of antiquated language and inflated images. This poet uses the fourteen lines, the iambic pentameter, the rhyme scheme, the turn, the ending couplet, all inherited from the past, but makes the poem unequivocally modern. --Ruth Bavetta