1st place winner

Annual Contention

by Jan Wood


in the boreal zone
spring waters atone for winter wounds
binding them
            in moss and fern sending
a stream of trapped sap
pulsing in the veins of birch
            poplar-leaf laundry is hung
out on branch lines
            tamarack spines needle the air
threadbare meadows return
from frozen paralysis
            swaying willow skirts
and wind flirts teasing stubborn snow
ridges on the moist dirt
            hillsides in lush lime coats
wear dandelion boutonnieres
            and home-sown greenery appears
in back yard plots
                        and pots on decks
nothing reflects the difference
            between the natural leafing
and the manipulated ones
            both stimulate
            and rejuvenate
            and quell a perspective
of collective winter pessimism
            but it takes a bit of grit
and resilience
to grow anything deliberately
            on the brink of taiga possession
nothing rivals forest aggression
            by mid-summer there will be
a degree of disappointment
            in the utterly insignificant greens
of carrots and beans planted
near spruce stands that
confront the sky
perfumed in dew-mist
swaying a summer lullaby