Finalist : Terrain.org 10th Annual Contest in Poetry
Beach Walking, Early March, No Hat
This is the tasteless water of souls. – Walt Whitman
In worry’s featureless gray I had walked out and kept on along a margin of shore pines leaned because they need to be, and I had walked quickly, beset entirely by what is or might be or is surely to come, and I did not think of weather, how low pressure had hammered and hurled itself all night’s mile by dark hour over water until that riverous southwest to northeast caught and shattered sudden across my shoulder and made on the back of my scalp needle drills quick to soak and drip, lull and gusts— rain all the moment, and I’m leaning into it, this ocean’s air of voices, all water off nose or brow swept by wind away, as in that dim morning gray I turned and started back, sure only I will ever have done too little to merit this planet of water and salt, its history, my history, all souls, all I love, this moment, and this.
Keeping It All
Here are named and described the kinds, ranges, and diets of penguin, here the ascending order of clouds, here the species of ants with the preferred habitat of each. These pages illustrate the designs of medieval furniture, principally chairs and stools, their materials, widths and heights. Here, the doves consumed from a rural dovecot, Sussex, 1638-1641, are recorded in a volume handbound in calf in 1642. These illustrations depict in watercolors twenty separate tulips, a page for each, these the species of fish shorter than a finger. These hands, each drawn from life, belong to a tanner, a smith, a lace-maker, a wheelwright, a milk maid, and a nun. Here at half-scale you see the footprints of an Asian elephant, a musk ox, a cougar, a pea fowl, racoon, lemur, river otter, and heron. Also drawn from life are these fifteen depictions of the webs of spiders. And this last is a book of citrus blooms, each with fruits cross-sectioned, with growing season, ideal temperature, and water asked for weekly, in measure with the trunk’s circumference one foot above the earth.
Lex Runciman has published 12 books, including college texts, anthologies, and six books of poems, most recently Salt Moons: Poems 1981-2016from Salmon Poetry in 2017. An earlier volume won the Oregon Book Award in poetry. Individual poems have received the Silcox Prize and the Kenneth O. Hanson Award. A new book from Salmon Poetry is forthcoming in 2021. Now retired, he lives in Portland, Oregon.