The John Robert Doyle, Jr., Prize
Debra Conner “Locked”
Because he didn't own a car, someone
must have driven my grandfather
to and from the orphanage where he left
my seven year old mother
and her three younger siblings.
My mother said she would always hear
the oak door slam, slamming against
their rented house deep
in a sunless cleft between mountains,
against her father who was broken
by his wife's early death, the loss
of his factory job, the loss
of the furniture the bank repossessed,
leaving them one double bed
where all five of them slept.
I'll never know what my mother thought
that day. Those memories were drained away
by doctors and drugs and treatments.
I only know something numbed her then,
something like the winter wind
that seeped through the floorboards
of their house and was locked
behind a heavy door inside her.
The winner of The John Robert Doyle Jr. prize is the poem, "Locked", for its use of language to imagine and wonder about the mystery of familial and generational pain.