It was a contest, offering publication and a cash prize. I kissed the envelope and dropped it in the mail. And then in the flurry of holiday performances, I forgot about it. Until I got this in the mail:
A rejection letter!
So I didn't win the prize and my poetry won't be published, but it's a NICE rejection letter. One of the judges took the time to write me a personal note telling me I made it to the second round, that they loved my writing and that I had the talent to transport readers into the heart of the poem.
Hooray! I learned at the writing seminar in France that it's rare for a judge or an editor to write a personal note on a rejection letter. It gave me hope and those encouraging words absolutely made my day.
The poem the judge is referring to is "Dominion," which I wrote last summer while sitting on my front porch after a run. I'm going to do something scary right now. Very scary. I'm going to share that poem with you. (Gulp. Shake.) Here goes:
by Amy Kortuem
And God said, Let us make man in our image: and let him have dominion
over all the creatures on earth and over all the birds of the air. Genesis 1:26
This early evening is still and the heat is so close
my running pace turns plodding, reluctant,
slow enough to see a baby robin sleeping just beside the walk,
a jewel nestled in the damp uncut grass,
head tucked under its wing,
tiny spotted breast rising and falling.
I stop to bend over it,
worrying that the approaching dog will stretch its leash and startle the little thing,
that the black cat straying this block will find it easy prey,
that the cluster of clumsy boys on skateboards four houses down will crush it.
So I wait for the dog and its people to pass panting,
for the cat to roam in lazy distraction behind the neighbor’s hedge,
for the boys to give up their jumping for lolling on their front steps.
And I keep watch for the bird’s mother to
flutter at me with her protective wings,
dash at me, furiously chipping,
But she doesn’t appear.
Neither does a nest when I search upward into the haze of the leaves.
I remember standing small in my father’s tall shadow
over a baby bird windblown from my grandmother’s tree,
crying for dad to climb it back up to the nest
and he sighs but doesn’t,
tells me if the little one has his scent
the mother might not take care of it anymore.
Now, as then, the only power I have
is to stand and worry and wait and keep watch
until distant lightning spears the sky,
thunder rumbles some slow seconds later,
and I turn for home.
Copyright © 2010 Amy Kortuem