by Jim Doss
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, October 2021
Judged by Donna Emerson

A boy is born into a great country
Twenty years pass
Now he is just a dead soldier
Almost unrecognizable in desert sands
The same boy who came to our rescue
Carrying a basket of peaches up the stairs
And two or three fell out
Tumbled down the steps
Their soft sounds mingling
With the everyday sounds of the world
And we watched him pause for a moment
To listen to the songs
Coming from the stone birdbath
The different pitch in each voice

This succinct portrait of a boy who became a soldier initially sounds simple and direct until the poem’s surprising center, when that boy “came to our rescue.” We see and hear the peaches tumbling. We watch the boy’s tender attention to the many voices of the birds outside. The poet’s skill with word choice and pacing slows us to a stop, a place of wonder and reflection. ---Donna Emerson