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First Place, Poetry, Open to the Public: Open, Smell, Settle, Begin...

Bryce O'Tierney, First Place, Poetry, Open to the Public

Open, smell, settle, begin…
    –from Hermit Songs, Seamus Heaney

Through the end of new rain, black
push out from the soil—from the rush of
alder streams bass line of vapor
        a bear
    shining onyx in the dilute
    cold of late spring
        leads with her nose and
lumbers more easily than
    the sun
slow across the street as light
is lost in her coat and the numbing memory
of winter’s cool clarity.

It’s in the way her legs slide
down from the slopes of her shoulders
into the muffled growth of summer—
mouths as yet mute, but liquid soon to sing
with the wind of heat and rush of
milk—to bloom again the stomachs
of the ripe and young; downy ombré
of black bear into umber
        to the other side.


By Bryce Quinn O'Tierney
Anchorage