Winner of the First Horizon Award for superior work by a debut author.

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Family Palindromes


I)                  Wrinkled, winking at me,

she overlooks a wrinkled sinking sea.

She stands surrounded by twinkled stars that left us long ago.


She knows their secrets:

though they appear before me

as fixed points in this endless dome — guiding lost travelers home —

their past touches us only as their present to ours,

their gift so the infinite is not as dark and unknown;

their clue to our yesterday, and

though I see them clear as  my everyday,

they rise and sink as extinct as they ever were forevermore.

Wrinkled, winking at me.


Like them, she stands with me,

a memory.

She stands with me, before me,

overlooks me without a word,

sans answer in this scene,

though I ask indefinitely

as she stands with me.


I ask and wonder if one day,

Like palindromes,

I’ll witness your birth again somehow, abrupt and violent as your end.

If you’ll find me standing here one day,

lost and confused, as you walk off-shore along the twinkling sea.

I ask and wonder if this palindrome,

like stars explode bright and light- years, alone,

I ask, if this palindrome will ever guide me home.


Or rather if I’m meant to bring you back –

Myself, if I’m meant to see your past and ask

When will

This endless mess begin and end.

This endless mess in perpetuity as I sit in mourning.

This endless mess that flashes back and forth, forever,

The never-ending word, goodbye, so blinding to my eyes. Goodbye —

Its start, similarly and its end, and so forth and

all the same. Despite my game to change it,

I witness this big bang over and over,

pulling empty answers from thin air, and while

I ask myself, ask is all there is to do

as I stare at you,

Wrinkled, winking at me.


II)               There we sat, once,

and I held forever in my hand.

Younger me, an end never crossed my mind.

Near you, I wore smiles of wonder and old hand-me-downs

fused with stories that older cousins never told me.

Secrets clung tight to the fibers on these clothes

that never quite fit right, but better somehow

on the younger bodies of older cousins that I saw in

old faded Polaroids.

You always pointed to their faces and placed them

in my mind.


Without you, still where we once sat, just me and

these faces are faded like fog suffocating the sea.

Rather than forever, I hold in my hand

only that faded photo that I forgot to hold up to your face

to place it

in that space where we once sat.


And I forgot it all.


III)            I repeat this march to the wrinkled sea,

hoping you will meet me there again.

I stare to the empty sky,

wishing you were there and

though this light reaches me and seems

to be that message from you for which I seek,

still I know you must be gone, I know

you must have sank through the sea despite the sight of you,

Wrinkled, winking at me.




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