The ESA would like to congratulate the winners of the 2020 Poetry Contest! First place was awarded to Ojo Taiye for “Moira Camp: The New Colossus”, and second place was awarded to Katherine DeCoste for “Eden”.
Katherine DeCoste has given permission for us to share her poem. Read “Eden” below!
You think they’re all dead bodies,
but the crabs just molt this time of year,
their soft flesh forcing itself out gaps
where claws were once. Floating down like
corpses on the stinking tide for you to pick
out with curious, uncareful hands and break
between your knuckles. So there it is.
The water clear between the body
and the break.
The stink of it, the shit in it, the smell
of brine you thought fresh for a week
or two, before summer spoiled it and you.
You could, almost, toss his corpse out
into the currents that chill the sea here
so that no matter how far south we get
the water always gnaws at bone.
You used to have faith in something.
Cold clear voice in the night
like a child’s, tin rap of the drum. Here
where the moss grows, the catch and release
of the spider in the arbutus’ nook,
its neck slope, nestled
and you could build a cross from this. From
where the spine curves in its private
pain. From the holes you imagine
in your palms when his eyes go cold.
You could resurrect this.
Or set the whole beach alight.
No birch, no bomb. Only smoke
in the night. But the broken things bend
under the Pacific breeze and you labour
up the reluctant reach of the hill.
His shadow cast over you.
So you smear ash there, between the skin
and the shame. Between the moon
and the cove it hits. Between the garden
and the snake, the body and the break.