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.

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