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Bobbi Kennedy Memorial Prize

Debra Conner “In Praise of Brown Leaves”

Honorable Mentions:

Dr.Tamara Miles Lemieux

In Praise of Brown Leaves

They are the sparrows of the leaf world,

unremarkable as pennies, masking tape,


old ropes.cafeteria meat loaf.

Uncelebrated like Dickinson in her day.


They are the nameless masses, used tea bags,

a corsage from the 1960 senior prom.


They are hush and whisper,

the pleas of innocent prisoners,


of refugees and immigrants forgotten by the news.

They're the empty lunch bags of hungry children,


dried blood after a beating,

roaches in the tenement house.


And so I gather a handful of them

and put them on my windowsill in a white cup.


Against a window splattered in rain,

the leaves are many hands folded in prayer.

Judge’s Comment:

The underlying portrait of a culture here is wonderfully expressed through the basic metaphor and how those details are ultimately themselves a pile of leaves, a jumbled disarray of what we try to ignore. God is in the details.

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