Prize Poetry

Building Safety

by a young woman, age 19

A glance around flames that cough out smoke and memories
and, as it crackles to mother nature’s tune,
the flames stretch up higher like lost but graceful limbs.
They take wind into their burning embrace
and together they dance.
Warmth found within pine-cones sticks and loose paper.
The secrets and pastime lusts jump out.
Around the fire, eyes have no difference because
the reflection of dangerous comfort
flickers inside of each iris.
A longing look across the pit,
a shoulder bumped, a marshmallow burnt,
two hot dogs slipped.
But all is good in the now.

Around the fire
bored with truth and no energy to spare for lies.
A game in the trees without the help of bulbs or moonlight.
Crickets howl. Footsteps that do not belong to you
Or another human
remind you that you are never alone in the night.
A squeal, running feet, the unmistakable crunch of gravel
beneath feet in a happy panic.

Around the fire in the trees on the gravel
time lost.
Forgotten sleep.
Around my fire,
my fire that built a false but comfortable safety.