Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Twenty-eighth Contest :: First Place Winner

The End

by Rachel Toalson
In the end,
you were the only one
who truly found freedom
from the burden of days.

We would have
twenty-three more
good years with you
before your mind
would wander away,
before you would not
be able to say,
with any certainty,
who Jerry or Leo or Maya was,
before you would sleep
with childlike soundness
in our still-shared bed
while I would write our story
by candlelight.

I would write because
in those to-be days,
you would forget
all that time bent
and unbent in us,
all the space between
now and the would-be.

In the future,
we would begin every morning
at our used-to-be-full table,
where I would sit
holding your hand
and you would sit
listening to the best
parts of our lives,
because I could never
read you the hard ones.

We would ease our days
through six journals,
and when we finished,
we would do it again,
and I would begin
all those readings
with Dear Phil,
because that's what you
have always and ever
been to me.

Tonight, the evening stands still,
except for a little girl
twirling the dance floor,
clutching daddy's hand.
She misses all those steps,
but she beams all the same
because your arms
hold steady and strong.

You lift her in the air,
this beloved daughter
blind to the world's color,
and I see joy beaming
in those violet eyes.

Under our gaze
this journey unraveled,
a road long and solemn
and agonizing, and yet
we did not yield, and somewhere
along the way it turned
unexpectedly beautiful.

Hope walked before us
toward a brand-new day,
and we followed
without looking back.

In all my searching,
I have found no words
to express the loveliness
of loving well.

I only know this:
Love always stands
at the end of all things.

About the Author
Rachel is the author of multiple books, including the kid-lit fantasy series, Fairendale; the poetry book, This is How You Know; and the Family on Purpose series. She shares a home with her husband and six boys in San Antonio, TX, where she faithfully writes 5,000 words of fiction, nonfiction and poetry every day.
Second Place Winner
Blue Mountain Arts