2010 Second Prize in Poetry

Taylor Bickford

We would wait until high tide,
Wait until the black rocks shone,
Go down with twine and bucket
To the concrete pier.

We knew where to find them,
Bundles of mussels under the boulders,
Lay them open with stones,
Bind them up with string
The white line pressing into their
Pink insides shimmering and wet.

They drop into the water almost silently,
Spiraling down to the bottom
Leaving behind footprints of bubbles that
Catch the sun in their curves.

And a green flash under the water,
A shout, a laugh, 
Pulling up on the string
And dodging the claws,
The tiny legs beating a tattoo on our hands.

Sometimes she would watch from the window,
Or from a chair outside
If she was strong that day.
But we never looked back at the house.

There are days we live
As if death were nowhere
In the background.
And then
There are days

When death is all we know


<Thornton Wilder Writing Competition