The World Is Moist in the Morning

by Terry Ofner
The Waters
First Place, August 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen

The morning is a thunderclap of light.
Moist light, because the world is moist in the morning.
I’m in it the way water worries, the way the creek
keeps asking the same question: When do I rest?

I’m in it the way certain entities enter a story then leave it—
desert creatures, dry and honeyed and locusted,
like John the Baptist come to moisten the morning head
of his Master, losing his underground shortly after.

The morning is a thunderclap of light. I’m in it
but light-blind and bone-idle, the way the creek slows
in a tunnel of shade looking for a low place to hide—
a Jonah, his ship storm-stalled: O, just let me sleep.

I’m in it. The morning is moist. The morning is too bright.
I’m in it. I’m standing in the way of my own light.

Sourced in the title (“moist,” “morning”) these lovely repetitions of sound and sense wend their way through the three quatrains of the poem, through the narrator’s dark passage of doubt. Along the way there is the “thunderclap of light”---a repeated call to awakening---comparisons to the water-prophet John, the bellied Jonah, until we reach the shore of the final rhymed couplet, which is the poem’s epiphany---its “own light.” --Kathleen Hellen