Finalist : Terrain.org 8th Annual Contest in Poetry
Toyota Under the Full Moon
For a moment I felt as if its iron was longing to go back to the ground it came from. Wanted to pull apart from its alloy. Remembered the roots and root hairs. Wanted to be touched by the small, familiar grains of soil.
In the weeks after my sister’s death, all I wanted to do was hike. Look at some leaves—thimbleberry, columbine. I was so tired of the blade of my own mind.
Feeling the Presence of Pan
One night, on a cliff, I asked a question about my life, and heard a screech owl call. A mountain lion yowled in the valley below, and there he was: Pan. He wasn’t benevolent, like Jesus holding out his hands, but he wasn’t evil, either. He was just alive, and startling, like the sound of antlers clanking in the dark. He had enough power to peel stars out of the air, a slow, vegetative power, like that of a tuber growing in the ground. This was a force that pushed aside lies and made manners look as silly as the white gloves I wore to church when I was a child.
Drawing at Night at Big Sur
We drew the yellow squares of windows; we drew the sound of a stream; we drew the camp fire; we drew the smell of the ocean. I turned a page of my sketchbook, and heard my friends turning theirs—the sound of charcoal scraping paper. Sea lions barked, a door slammed, a woman moved away from us; the light from her flashlight wobbled through the dark. I realized how much I’d missed, spending so many nights indoors. The moon varnished my car and made its steel hood shine.
All morning I sit next to a pond and watch newts pad over the mud. Water striders dent the water with their feet. Two white butterfly wings—discarded by a bird who ate the body—float in a ditch. I see I’ve carried my own cage with me all my life: sun shines on the bars. Ridiculous, I think. I lift it over my head and set it down.
Ellery Akers is the author of two poetry collections, Practicing the Truth and Knocking on the Earth. She has won 13 national writing awards, including the Poetry International Prize, the John Masefield Award, and Sierra magazine’s Nature Writing Award. Her poetry has been featured on National Public Radio and in The New York Times Magazine, Poetry, and The Sun. She is also the author of a children’s novel, Sarah’s Waterfall.