Third place, Poetry -- 'The Oracle'
When my belly was stretched and
rounded with you at nearly full-term,
a tanned and bearded Greek man
with sparkling white teeth
would approach, kneel down and
press in. Tilting his head towards
you, he would sing,
sing to you opera as though
he could see through my
skin, your skin, clear to
you, to your pure and fearless spirit.
Perhaps he saw your penchant for theater,
for gowns, for dramatic make up,
your quiet introversion
punctuated by moments of
fierce emotion, loyalty, love;
your ideals held close to your chest and your
stubborn resistance to anything less.
He saw you anticipating your
transition to this grand stage of the
miserable and the miraculous and
he wanted you to know
that before the world knew you,
he saw you,
he celebrated you.
Judge's comment: This poem has a lot of mystery, as befitting its title. We are not quite sure of the relationship of the man to the speaker, or to the baby he sings to, yet it doesn't really matter: What matters is the way he "sees" the unborn child. As a reader, I like the implication that every life begins with the mystery of an unwritten future, and that every one of us deserves celebration for who we are, even before that mystery is fully revealed.