Honorable Mention: “Wilderness and Civilization” by Sarah Capdeville

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To run with the croak of ravens,

to twist my fingertips into the edges of ponderosa bark

which is the sweetness of vanilla.

To feel my breath freeze to my face

as the city crams into cars

and plumes of carbon monoxide.

Yet,

the deer scatter mountain ash berries

across the sidewalk

and nibble away the faces of sagging pumpkins.

Tumbleweed collects beneath tires

and traces wisps in the snow.

Someone has planted creeping Oregon grape as a shrub,

and flowers from European gardens

spread up the mountainside.

People stack stones into an equilibrium on the ridge line.

Fat black bears streak

across the manicured golf course.

I don’t know who told me of this division.

Perhaps the city,

or maybe history.

Perhaps the sheltered sunrooms

and hot white lights,

or the network of electric lines

above my locked door.

They dip into a tangle against the sky.

Yet,

there is the flicker,

with her black breast

and orange under her wings

like the spread of a summer sunset,

clinging with cracked nails

to the long-dead wood

of the telephone pole.

She would be gone.

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