The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Prize
The Pear Tree
The pears hung heavy
like a beagle’s tits after her pups have come.
I heard that beagle just last month,
howling in her hunger
while her pups climbed and crawled,
dove, pushed, bit to reach an available tit.
My face cringed remembering my cracked and bleeding nipples -
how my body instinctively wanted to pull away
every time my infant son suckled for his food.
The tree’s branches droop from the weight,
like sagging breasts, heavy from nursing.
I have taken fruit for granted.
A pear has never been so significantly beautiful
until now that I have born a child.
I am that tree; strong and resilient
and silent, at times.
The fruit from my womb
should not know about the bending branches,
the blood, the bed, the tears.
I will remain like the pear tree,
strong, though bent,
Comment by the judge: The poem contains strong metaphors throughout with firm use of each. Depicting motherhood here from the beagle to the tree to the speaker's own life is a profound challenge accomplished exceptionally. The ending secures the roots of the poem in the wisdom of age. It is all very well done.
Honorable mention: Ruth Nicholson