Last week I received a form rejection after 6 months to a contest I entered. I knew it was a rejection right away because it was a SASE. It stated that there were over 900 entries and included the name of the winner. I had that moment of wondering why she had won and then instead of stewing, I googled her which lead me to her poetry. I was blown away.
Not only was the poetry amazing but it spoke to me because of the similarities we shared in life. She was a mother whose child had been medically fragile. She wrote stunning poetry about what could be my life.
While weeping over her poem, I instantly felt connected and truly happy that she been chosen. So I sent her an email of congratulations and she responded.
I since have been able to look at my own manuscript with so much more objectivity and openness. I can see why it didn't win. I was able to be honest with myself because I was honest with her.
So time to revise and enter again next year.
Congrats again, Maria Hummel.
Days you are sick, we get dressed slow,
find our hats, and ride the train.
We pass a junkyard and the bay,
then a dark tunnel, then a dark tunnel.
You lose your hat. I find it. The train
sighs open at Burlingame,
past dark tons of scrap and water.
I carry you down the black steps.
Burlingame is the size of joy:
a race past bakeries, gold rings
in open black cases. I don’t care
who sees my crooked smile
or what erases it, past the bakery,
when you tire. We ride the blades again
beside the crooked bay. You smile.
I hold you like a hole holds light.
We wear our hats and ride the knives.
They cannot fix you. They try and try.
Tunnel! Into the dark open we go.
Days you are sick, we get dressed slow.
Source: Poetry (September 2010).