Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Twenty-third Contest :: Third Place Winner


A POEM FOR THE COTTONWOOD GROWING IN THE DESERT

by Cristina Peña
You were not born into artist’s hands
but they grew
from an old dusty pile of cow bones
licked clean by sand, by still, dry heat.
Clay hands, adobe brick,
they hold firm a brush, a thimble,
a black iris.
In secret they are as gentle
as the white calla lily
holding the moon in the womb of her curled petals.
They hold a petunia,
a skull, even your husband’s violent hand.

When he dies, you finally paint
the cottonwood of early autumn
with yellow leaves that move like water.
In life, the leaves are shaped like hearts
but you do not paint this,
only the cottonwood,
twisting up and out
of cracked earth,
dead and defiant,
gray bark bare.

And you --
alone with desert ghosts,
alone with the rust red Sandia mountains,
alone with the cottonwood’s falling leaves
that make the sound of rushing water
as they go.


For Georgia
Second Place Winner
Blue Mountain Arts