Wintry Peacock

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
First Place, August 2014
Judged by Suzanne Lummis


As if they were three frail boats, opening their feathers like ragged sails.
–D. H. Lawrence

Each day I walk through a forest with somebody’s name
carved on a tree. In the winter, I had seen peacocks

and hens, and like the old story, birds flew before me: feathers
wet with snow. Each of us alone unafraid were trespassing

through cemetery trees. Tomorrow it would be
someone else walking and listening to the forest.

I whisper the blind man’s ashes, powdery and grey
a chimney of mist leaves my mouth, forms

a dull sentence. Forest deer ramble on their way,
never a sermon or a regret. The trees clutch their green

prayer shawls, tremble in the snow. My footprints fill.
The forest becomes an unblinking eye, silver and blue,

cold and fearless. It is yesterday, yesterday still.
A deer dreams of my strangeness, smells my winter skin.


In a series of hushed images that unfold, one out of the other, the poet draws us into a hypnotic, trance-like mood, but a mood that rises from an environment so specific, so physical it seems both landscape and dreamscape. Nothing in this language feels false or forced, the precise, declarative sentences clear but never ordinary. I find the line"...It is yesterday, yesterday still" especially wonderful --"still" in both senses of the word, continuation and frozen in stillness. --Suzanne Lummis

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