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The Gertrude Munzenmaier Prize

Preston Martin


When the Olympics were in London

The green rack sags with plants,
leans hard against the stoop;
flowers, deadheads, buds abound,
vines curl to the chipped brick base.
Plants are crammed in crooked rows
in red, blue, purple pots.
One orange.
A spiky dracaena and muscular basil
tower over all and sway
against the yellow wall.

The jenny wren, white piping
down his sides, is back again,
his tail feathers cocked
like a pistol.
Again today, he flits about
the flowers, hopping in and out
of pots, pecking and searching
for bugs and seeds,
and oddly, nipping zinnia petals.

I watch his practiced routine.
He springs, bounces, drops to the ground
and vaults
from one stand leg to the other leg
and up again, up
as a gymnast, but with wings tucked to his side
like the arms of a diver. He poses on top,
a lusty cheer for himself,
and then again, the plants, the pots,
another shot at the zinnia.
Fifty three seconds to make a round.