Coupeville poets earn honors
February 25, 2009 · 10:39 AM
Every year the Washington Poets Association Cascade Journal holds the William Stafford Contest for poetry.
Coupeville poet Ann Gerike took first place for her poem “On Finding a Snake in the Pasture.”
Also noted as an “Accepted Poems” winner was Clinton resident Suzannah Dalzell for her poem “Puszcza.”
The association’s William Stafford Contest began in 1972, and was first judged by the renowned Northwest poet William Stafford, with Tess Gallagher as the first winner. Since then, this contest has continued to attract some of the best poets of the region, and is the Washington Poets Association’s most prestigious contest. It is open to poetry in any form.
Here is Gerike’s winning poem:
On Finding a Snake in the Pasture
Past the silent tractor, the threshing machine hulked
against a pink horizon, my eye is caught
by a flash of luminescence. A small O of snake,
shiny blue-and-black striped, lies stiff, flattened
on flattened yellow stalks.
I bend down in the twilight, follow papery
curves to the head, mouth pressed open, as if the life
had been ironed out of it.
Remembering crows and eagles, I think,
At least he didn’t suffer, which is of course
what people say about someone who crashes
like a falling rock in his garden, or is found,
a dead quiet weight, between the sheets.
That’s the way I’d like to go, they say.
I’m not so sure. Not that I’d choose
long suffering. But people who love you need time
to get used to the idea of your leaving,
so they won’t be flattened, knocked
breathless as I was all those years ago,
my pre-loss life still glittering
somewhere behind me.