Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2023: SONO
This poem is dedicated to my son, with love.
Out of albumen and blood, out of amniotic brine,
placental sea-swell, trough, salt-spume and foam,
you came to us infinitely far, little traveler, from the other world —
skull-keel and heel-hull socketed to pelvic cradle,
rib-rigging, bowsprit-spine, driftwood-bone,
the ship of you scudding wave after wave of what-might-never-have-been.
Memory, stay faithful to this moment, which will never return:
may I never forget when we first saw you, there on the other side,
still fish-gilled, water-lunged,
your eelgrass-hair and seahorse-skeleton floating in the sonogram screen
like a ghost from tomorrow,
moth-breath quicksilver in snowy pixels, fists in sleep-twitch,
not yet alive but not not,
you who were and were not,
a thunder of bloodbeats sutured in green jags on the ultrasound machine
like hooves galloping from eternity to time,
feet kicking bone-creel and womb-wall,
while we waited, never to waken in that world again,
the world without the shadow of your death,
with no you or not-you, no is or was or might-have-been or never-were.
May I never forget when we first saw you in your afterlife
which was life,
soaked otter-pelt and swan-down crowning,
face cauled in blood and mucus-mud, eyes soldered shut,
wet birth-cord rooting you from one world to the next,
you who might not have lived, might never have been born, like all the others,
as we looked at every pock and crook of your skull,
every clotted hair, seal-slick on your blue-black scalp,
every lash, every nail, every pore, every breath,
with so much wonder that wonder is not the word —
A special thank you to our WordView 2023 poets.
Here's what our PAN Wordview 2023 judges have to say about this year's competition. Robert Seatter, says "ever a joy and a privilege to co-judge the Poetry Archive Now annual competition, tapping into a pulse of thought and feeling from around the globe, condensed into intensely crafted poems. The entries came from all continents, covered myriad themes, spoke in different voices, but all shared a fundamental belief in the power of poetry to speak from the soul."
Courtney Conrad says "the poets who participated in this competition reminded us that poetry is a tool for change, a medium for reflection, and a source of inspiration. These poets have left an indelible mark on me and the world, and I can't wait to see how their words continue to shape our collective consciousness in the future."
Merrie Joy Williams says "The Poetry Archive is such an indispensable resource - the idea that a poem read in a poet’s own voice can outlast those seemingly endless moments tinkering until a poem feels right, or at least robust enough to convey a memory or insight - so exploring these entries was a privilege and joy. Selecting a final twenty was tortuous. So many captured the spirit of these times, when so many things are at risk of erosion or at a critical juncture: the environment, the misuse of AI, truthfulness, the modus operandi of those who run our countries, and issues of social justice and humanity. Others captured personal moments of reckoning in bold and intimate and surprising ways. Somehow we’ve managed to narrow them down and here we have, I think, a wide range of voices and approaches, personal and political, national and international, witty and wise, often proving that these dialectic notions are one and the same."See the collectionWatch the full Wordview 2023 playlist