2012 National Finalist
born of lightning gut, thunder breaking
in his bone pits, shepherd god
that herds maple trees
swollen with rain.
They blossom beneath his hand, these life-givers:
proud mothers, bearer of forests and root, little black knob-feet
kicking at overturned stones and sharp-haired grass.
He is rustic pan flutings played to the water people and
forest-tree-thistle spirits, wind sighing across the mouths
of gutted river reeds to make foreign song, dances
across the backs of oak saplings with cloven shoes.
He is hunter eyes and hunter arrow
that loves the deer’s raw mammal heart
even as his spear pierces its chest.
A beast amongst gods,
ivory-horned statue filled with
bellows that shake the leaves’ bones.
In the distance, an animal calls:
the shudders of open morn
against bark and skin. A wounded cry
arises from the land.
There is a rustling
as a strange wind
washes the dirt from his mountain heart.
Katy Li, age 15