By JESSICA D. THOMPSON
JAMES BAKER HALL MEMORIAL PRIZE IN POETRY WINNER
Judge: Maurice Manning,
poet and author of
The Common Man and The Gone and the Going Away
“This poem reminds me of ‘Felix Randal’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins, not only for its content, but for its vivid imagery and the sound effects of its phrasing. The tenderness this poem observes is in motion, as if such tenderness is naturally part of the world. Of course this is true, but “The Blacksmith” reminds us to look for tenderness where we might not expect it.”
Before a hammer meets an anvil,
there is a pause midair
and time is suspended.
He forged horseshoes in a fire
built each day before sunrise.
Before bed, he would brush
her hair one hundred strokes.
I never saw such tenderness.
He must have thought of water
falling from a sun-struck cliff.
He must have thought of rose
petals floating in a rain barrel.
He must have thought he heard
a whisper of wings—
singing in the palm of his hand.
Jessica D. Thompson spent her formative years on a family farm in west central Kentucky. She lives with her husband Hugh in New Harmony, Indiana. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Kudzu, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Chaffin Journal, Tiferet, The Midwest Quarterly, and in Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems by Accents Publishing. In 2013, Liquid Paper Press (Austin, Texas) published her poetry chapbook, Bullets and Blank Bibles.