Honorable Mention: “The Far Field” by Mary Peterson

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“In “The Far Field,” Mary Peterson creates a series of rolling images that build quickly.  Her lines read fast and breathless, creating an urgent tone in harmony with the poem’s rhythm.  Through the speaker’s strong voice and conviction, the reader can vividly imagine Peterson’s scenes and the emotions those images convey.”

~Vol. 5 Poetry Board

“The Far Field” by Mary Peterson

I dream of journeys repeatedly:

Of wings not strewn to sails or a fixed compass south,

Of the singular beat of flockless flap,

Above east-west logging roads where ash covers,

Settled into footprints of predators still hungry,

Hanging on to dry-bones,

And shadows hold their breath as the night inhales the moon,

Clinging trees tilt to the sunken days,

And time stops for just a side-kiss with sunlight,

Where charred branches curl to soil,

Deep in the burnt yesterday of forest,

In the branch the Great-Horned does not speak but watches,

For absent tiptoes.



At the field’s end, in the corner missed by fire,

Where tires cradle rabbits amidst prisms of broken glass,

Foliage creeps between sluggish mushrooms,

Not too far away from the ever-changing flower dump,

Among bees molded in tin-combs

One learned of the eternal:

Petals rusted in honey and dead bugs puddled on the tongue of a bird

(I found it lying among the rubble of an old bin)

And the half-carcass of a bear half-scavenged,

Blasted to death by the night watchman.



I suffered for both sides of the stream,

Sitting in the muddled colors before morning is morning,

To hear the pitches of birds apologizing for blindness,

I listened and listened to the shape of their call

As the song blinkered into chirps that miss the constancy of dawn

And the horizon that does not rise or follow,

Drifting with moments,

Like the stitch of wings over wind,

While the wrens bicker and sing in the half-green hedgerows,

I’m in the river-wake of momentum.



–Or naked in sand,

The still pulses of erosion,


Once I was something like this,

Or perhaps another effect



The river turns on itself,

And the sediment is clumping to the hollows of fallen earth,

I feel a weightless change, not a moving forward

But at the center of cycle, a standstill

Where the warp collects alluvial normalcy

No longer can I hide in rifts as rifts.



I stare at the fungus breeding,

My mind moves in more than one place,

On both sides of the sand-dial on its side,

At the bottom of a river.



He is the end of things, the final man,

When a broken compass is still a compass,

Containing what the night cannot say,

In the empty beaks that will not fly,

And let the ash flood to foliage.



Time and place are loosely absolute:

And even the meadow at the edge

keeps their illusion in a safe,

in the wings of a dragonfly

that, before petals thirst,

seem to search for droplets,

so that ripples are or maybe

not casted from one mind.


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