Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Tenth Contest :: First Place Winner

One Hundred and Twenty

by Yi-Ching Lin
(for Mika Yoshida)

One hundred and twenty
is the number of islands reaching
with their blessed baits
into the East China nest
where the waters first distributed god
and god first distributed smiles
onto the faces of extremes, in Amakusa*
Your husband is a metaphor
for tangerines
while the other men cast down lines
as up his trees grew
and you
always busy multiplying
mountains into the half-million years
it took to grow Amakusa
from the sea so that you could
spill your mallets like a bouquet
and be generous of landing

is the number of rosewood keys
polished by your fingers
and wrists and elbows
and the sweet grass you pack
into your spring suitcase each time
you say "soon"
as you reach the five bridges
and turn to wave –
smiling because you are ready to leave
smiling because you will return

is the number of hearts
waiting at home when
you walk out onto a stage
and reel in the rest
too easily with your
tangerine smile balanced
on mallet rods over marimba seas
and at the end of the day
with a little bit of America on your lips
the phone rings on one
of those hundred and twenty islands
and you listen
to their hearts beating from home
with the scent of Amakusa
from your opened case

*Amakusa (Japanese, "sweet grass") -- a chain of 120 islands off of the west coast of Kyushu, Japan, known for fishing and citrus fruits and the birthplace of Christianity in Japan. Also the home of Mika Yoshida, percussionist.

Second Place Winner
Blue Mountain Arts