Once again, we are floored by the superb writing of our Carolina women. The magazine received more submissions to the annual writing contest this year than ever before, and the competition was fierce. Every entry's feeling and boldness were touching in unique ways - we giggled, cringed, fumed, fretted and maybe even shed a tear or two.
Then Carolina Woman's editors felt each of those emotions again, this time from trying to choose the best. After heated days and restless nights, we've finally selected the winners and we are so very proud of them.
In her book "Bird by Bird," Anne Lamott wrote, "One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around." This is exactly what each of our winners does, taking us to near and faraway places, from North Carolina around the country and across the world with immaculate specificity and vivid language.
We present to you now a diverse selection of poetry and prose; though similar in their uses of striking, unconventional detail to portray universal emotions and struggles. Each writer takes broad ideas, such as love, loss and alienation, and makes them intensely personal. By seemingly banal means, these writers invite their readers into individual worlds of anguish and triumph. They illuminate what it means to be human on a level that speaks to all.
Linnie Greene from Durham for her story "Felt"
Prize: Pet & People Portraits by Lynne Srba - $450 Value
Caroline Mann from Raleigh for her poem "Market Square"
Prize: One hour of computer repair or tune-up from Tech Wizards - $129 Value
Katherine Avanesyan from Chapel Hill for her poem "Milk"
Prize: Custom-made floral arrangement from Brooke & Birdie Interior Design - $100 Value
Kelsey King from Gastonia for her story "In Waiting"
Prize: 1-year Membership in North Carolina Writers' Network - $75 Value
Charlotte Fryar from Chapel Hill for her poem "Crazy Aunt Sarah"
Alice Osborn from Raleigh for her poem "Ode to Hamburger Helper"
Sarah Ellis from Chapel Hill for her poem "Communion"
Terri Kirby Erickson from Lewisville for her poem "Searching for Scallop Shells"
Emily Palmer from Durham for her story "A View From Paris"
Janice A. Farringer from Chapel Hill for her poem "Good Night"
Genevieve Fitzgerald from Raleigh for her poem "Arctic Bonsai"
Prize: Carolina Woman tote bag - invaluable
Ruth's in the kitchen when he knocks on the door. It's already open, just the screen between her and the fall air, but he raps a few times anyway because it is not his house. The funeral has been over for several hours now, and night is hovering over the last few minutes of a sunset.
"Come on in, Banks," she says and opens the door, swatting away two beagles that are braying by her feet.
He follows her, his father's last wife, into the kitchen. She looks tired. There is a television on, playing Veggie Tales, and two toe-headed boys are watching it. They are sitting close enough that the screen casts blue onto their faces. On top of the television, there is a gold-painted cross. Throughout the house, there are crosses - straw ones, metal ones, hanging ones, standing ones.
Ruth notices him looking at a shelf next to the microwave. "Do you like that one? Your Dad gave me that. He brought it home from the mission trip in Ghana. The orphans make them there." She pauses and looks off, and he can see the bags underneath her eyes. Banks thinks she's imagining his father as a saint. It's hard for him to match his memories to hers. "You can have it if you like."
She's all earnestness, and it was always a wonder to him that his father ended up with someone who wore long denim dresses and went to church. She has a brown bob that's only just beginning to gray, and a wire-rimmed pair of glasses that sit plainly on her face. It is strange to him that his father - Banks senior - could have loved someone so unlike his mother, someone whose devotion to God often manifested in the Paula Deen casseroles she baked for his birthday each year, and the trips they took to South America to help the poor. There is nothing not to love about her, but that's all there is. There's nothing more. His mother smells like patchouli and drinks expensive wine and hasn't been to church in ages. Banks never goes at all.
The earliest and realest memories Banks has are of his drives to school. His father used to drive an old white Jeep whose paint left rusty prints where it had faded. Banks remembers waking up on cold fall mornings and heaving himself up into a seat that seemed too large, remembers how his father would leave the car idling in the driveway so it would be warm for the trip. Banks remembers learning what "ass" meant, and how he'd accidentally told his mother, who got so angry, and how his father's deep voice would bellow a high, staccato laugh after the best jokes on sports radio.
Ruth reaches behind him for the clay ornament with the sad-faced angel child on it and folds her hands around his. "Here," she says. "It'll remind you of him." She is the kind of person who says things like that, things that most people could never say so earnestly. She turns away and goes into the other room, and he hears the snap of the dryer's lid, the scrape of the lint screen.
His father died from melanoma, the kind he got over summers ministering to children who were not his own after he'd left Banks and his mother stateside. He'd met Ruth ten years later, when they both attended a conference - Banks senior for the buffet, Ruth for the spiritual enlightenment - and the twins had been born five years after that, too late for Banks to think of them as anything but distant kin. He hears them start to sing along in high-pitched chipmunk voices to the DVD in the other corner of the room. They are close enough to the television that he thinks he can see their breath fogging up the glass.
He stands there in the pale half-light of the kitchen, waiting for Ruth to fill his car with his father's sweatshirts and scarves and other useless things that he'll end up giving to Goodwill as soon as he leaves Minnesota.
Then, there is sobbing that he hears from the laundry room. Breathless hiccups. The twins turn their heads, and one of them gets off the couch and stares from across the room in his Batman pajamas.
"It's ok guys," Banks says after the silence has lasted too long. They eye him, gaping like two fawns. He lays the clay cross with the angel on it on the counter and walks towards his stepmother.
Ruth is standing over the dryer, the shoulders of a wool sweater in each hand. She holds it out in front of her, running her swollen eyes over every shrunken inch. It used to be saggy and large enough to cover his father's belly, and now it is felted and small, too small to fit over Banks' shoulders.
"I'm so sorry," Ruth says, looking down at the sweater. "I'm so sorry."
Neither of them knows what to do. Eventually he puts one hand on her shoulder and takes the sweater with the other. It's still warm, and the wool is dense and soft, springy and thick. He walks over to the twins.
"It's alright," he tells them.
The one closest to him stares with his gray eyes, then takes the sweater Banks is holding toward him and slides it over his head, over Batman's image on his T-shirt. It will only take a few months for him to grow into it, Banks thinks. In the supermarket, someone might ask the boy where he got the sweater, which is striped with garish bright turquoise and gold yarn, and he will say, "My Daddy." Banks will be wearing swim trunks in the ocean, and he will never think about the sweater except to wonder once whether his father had ever worn it at all.
By Caroline Mann
What is there to say? Only
that ice-cream tastes better
from a wooden spoon,
the kind that is shaped like a peanut-
a sweet and smooth paddle
cupping the vanilla
softly on its own tongue
before offering it to yours.
It is this, and a girl
with red hair and green bows
squealing at the water’s rise and fall
through the holes in her bright peach sandals.
Later, her mother makes a tent
of the red towel,
curving it around the girl’s paleness
so that she might change inside.
But she leaps,
like a wet fish from her mother’s arms
to run back into the fountain-
a wild streak of white
against the crowded scene.
And her skin is the color of ice-cream
in the noonday sun.
“Annabelle!” her mother calls
“You come back here!”
But the girl runs on, wanting only to feel
the water splashing
between her naked legs.
By Katherine Avanesyan
Spiral-capped jugs, glass and plastic,
pink for one percent, blue for two
and ice-cold behind the foggy doors,
momentary Siberia when I open them,
and hot, like Uzbekistan again
when shut–waiting with Katyusha
for the town's only dairy cow, a road
where we lined up til' three and sweat
into our socks, where Katya cried
And I recited Pushkin, where I cried
when she first said my name.
Now the cartons sit in rows,
sliding one behind the other
and we shop at Piggly Wiggly,
where the milk lines up for us.
By Kelsey King
Wildren sat on the park bench, palms pressed to her stomach. Fear, at once child and matron-like, laid its ear against her belly and murmured how the air could let out too much blood, if you weren't careful. That's what the articles said. She closed her eyes and saw red: deep like pomegranate seeds, bright like holiday paper.
The glow of lamp posts turned early autumn leaves into tiny lanterns that floated in the distance. Wildren walked past them, remembering ghost stories from her childhood. Tonight, ghosts and worries crept silently in between her thoughts and memories, blurring their distinction. She hummed a snippet of an Ella Fitzgerald song and tried to focus on the image of her mother making bread and singing along to the radio.
She had whispered her dread to Anselm before he left, asking him to stop at the pharmacy. He had forgotten. You're not, he said, don't worry about it. He thought she was ridiculous, said they had used at least two kinds of protection; it was impossible. Children were loud; children were dirty and expensive; children were an unwanted burden.
The park was nearly deserted. The families had left for their warm, laden tables and chatter about school and the new class pet. The single stragglers had forsaken the trees for dates and Merlot, leaving Wildren alone in the park. Anselm would be home soon. Wildren cut off the path and hid from the leaf-lights, breathing empty words into the wind. She didn't want to know for sure. She wanted to do it and have it done with. A simple pill and she wouldn't have to know; it would all be down the rabbit hole. Anselm's logic and reason were of no use to her; they calculated blood flow and error percents, not emotions and gut feelings. She had been chained to her worry for so long that she could barely remember a life without it. It drove her to account for every detail, plan for every mishap, anticipate every possibility. It had brought her so much: her position at the firm, success with cases; she despised it, yet could not bring herself to part with the useful demon. Being so far removed, the lights began to resemble stars, as they had on that snowy night.
He might be looking for her, might be sitting at home wondering where she was. But he had forgotten about pills and possibilities, and right now, she didn't want to be found. Her father would say she was straying from the righteous path, the path of God. Wildren shook her head and kept walking. She and God could have a chat later if they needed to.
Anselm would doubtless be home already, bent over work he brought home from the lab. He kneaded ideas into theories, let them rise in the heat of experiments, firm up in graphs and meetings, and then sliced them into neatly-worded papers. How wonderful it must be, she thought, to have work that you enjoy.
Wildren quickened her pace, weaving her way between the thick, shadowy currents that wound through the city. If she wasn't fast enough, she would be swallowed into this gulf of over-taxed husbands, nights full of crying, and paychecks that came at too high a price. She wished she could be free of this thing and thus avoid the ghosts of dreams that haunted so many. Before she knew it, she was running, tears flowing from the corners of her eyes.
"Welcome home; where've you been?" Anselm looked up from the stove and a frying pan full of omelet.
"Just felt like a walk. Eggs?" Her pile of incomplete job applications stared up at her from the table; the law firm was too much: fighting over minutiae and marriage, custody and cursory oversights.
"I've been craving breakfast food all day." He flipped the omelet and sprinkled some sliced cheese on the top.
"I know, I know." She shoved the applications aside and began to set the table.
"Would you like toast?"
She scowled at the kitchen counter. Naturally, he had asked about toast. She straightened her papers noisily.
"I don't care." She sat down at their small breakfast table, her back to the kitchen, and picked up a back issue of the New Yorker. Her forehead felt warm pressed against her palm.
He shrugged and popped four pieces of toast in the toaster. Her mother had suggested distraction: focusing Wildren's attention on pleasanter things.
"That Canadian lab is going to be at the conference Tuesday. You know, the one that discovered the cheap cancer drug?"
"Lovely," Wildren replied, staring into the magazine. He wouldn't ask if she was okay.
"Want to ask them if they encountered any problems in fibrinogen from the drug; don't want people getting blood that can't clot. Want potatoes in your omelet?"
Anselm lifted the eggs out of the frying pan and slid them beside brown leaves of toast. When they had first moved into the condo, everyone warned them about the ghost of Anselm's grandmother, who had passed away there two years before. Despite the warnings, Anselm never felt the least unsettled. His grandmother was kind enough to leave them her home; besides, one death changed startlingly little. It would still snow and the magazine salesmen would still come, be there death or no. He once told Wildren how he found that fact oddly comforting; she, however, had burst into tears. She was sensitive to things, too many things sometimes. He had advised her against joining the firm in the first place, but she was ambitious and stubborn. He could support, but he could not, ultimately, dissuade; he felt powerless as he watched her suffer through cases of domestic unrest and unwanted children.
"Grams always made the best omelets," he said, sitting down.
"Is something the matter, Wildren?"
She balked at Anselm's density. Or was he just trying to tease the painful words out of her? She sipped at her scalding hot tea and let him steep in silence a moment longer.
"You forgot, didn't you?" she breathed finally.
"Forgot...? Wildren, you worry too much. You're not, I promise. Why don't I pick up a test tomorrow to prove it to you?" He smiled at her between bites of egg and toast and tried to ignore the piles of paper at the end of the table: unfinished cases and applications to bakeries. What could he do, when all was said and done?
"I don't want to know, Anselm," she seethed, "I've told you."
"So you want to worry over nothing?" He sensed her ire and fell quiet, wondering what his grandmother would have thought, had she seen this. She was a decorous, yet down-to-earth woman. If any ghost of her was left in the place, he reasoned, it haunted the decorations and wallpaper, not the inhabitants.
"I'm sorry, I can't finish mine." She pushed the plate over to her husband and walked to the bedroom. Parasites needed food to survive. She could almost feel it putting roots into her stomach, siphoning nutrients from her. In her shoulders, she felt the firm slowly sucking her strength away, leaving the muscle in tight bulbs.
Anselm followed her and folded her into his arms. Wildren shrugged away and sobbed into the duvet as he fumbled for what to say or do. He had been with his wife for nearly eight years, five of those in marriage, and he still didn't know what to do when she cried.
"Do you want to talk...?" he ventured. He felt his grandmother grinning at him from somewhere far beyond the wallpaper, urging him on.
"No." She sat up, facing away. He couldn't get off the hook that easily.
He offered her some tissue and retreated to the living room. Wildren curled up on the end of the bed, falling into an uneasy sleep.
A deep and hazy darkness came over her, small stars appearing on the edges of the horizon. Only, they weren't stars. As the scenery shifted into focus, she saw that they were lanterns strung over a wide pavilion, a dance in full swing. One by one, the dancers stopped, broke away from one another, and looked towards Wildren: pale faces against a dark sky. The longer she stood, the more faces there seemed to be, each blurred and distant. The wind picked up and faded the faces to hazy patches of white. The bodies grew thicker until they formed great shadows that moved towards Wildren as she ran through a wide prairie. The plain seemed endless, the sky a vacant grey arc above. The shadow-men drew closer, their hands grabbing at her. With a surge of anger, she turned and pulled a pistol from her coat, aiming it at the shadows. Anselm's face appeared on one of the shadow-men in front of her, sneering and cackling in the empty plain. She fired and watched as the bullet shot red swatches into his shirt. She made herself look as he was ripped apart from within, bone shards and intestine strewn across the grass. Again and again she watched the horrible scene until she withdrew, gasping through a cold sweat on the duvet.
She sat in perfect stillness, adjusting to the darkness of the bedroom. The wall shadows were velvety and touched gently the old vanity and carpets that Anselm's grandmother had left. She pressed her palms to the wallpaper's cool surface and for a moment felt enveloped by a terrible solitude, the pale, haunting faces staring out at her from sheaths of paperwork on the bedside table. She crept into the hallway to see Anselm laid across the sofa. Wildren bit back another wash of tears and guilt, and knelt by the sofa, running her fingers through his black hair. She could see streaks of blue and red in it from the street lamps outside. His eyes opened and he softly pulled Wildren onto the couch next to him.
"I'm sorry," she breathed.
"It's okay." He buried himself in the scent of her hair: lily of the valley and juniper.
"I can't help worrying so much."
Anselm decided not to debate this at two in the morning. "Want some hot chocolate?" he asked instead, stretching.
"Hot chocolate: would you like some?"
She felt him smile against the back of her neck. The dream began to break apart into brief images, vague feelings, nothing at all.
"Yes." Somehow Anselm had the ability to turn them both into mischievous kids, sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to have hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows.
"I really am sorry that I worry so much," she said as Anselm warmed the milk.
"Don't apologize," he replied, gently kissing her hair.
"I'll be back." She let her hand linger on his arm as the thought "let there be blood," looped through her head, her feet tracing a blind pattern to the bathroom.
There was blood: deep like pomegranate seeds, bright like holiday paper.
She beamed into the bathroom mirror and pulled her hair into a loose bun. In the kitchen, she twirled into Anselm's arms, spilling half a mug of hot chocolate on the floor. But it didn't matter. Her worry was for naught. They wouldn't have to fight about whether to keep it. She wouldn't have the interminable guilt, the regret. She exhaled and shoved the last of the firm papers into her bag; her life was her own again. He kissed her and they waltzed over the linoleum, the wallpaper rosy and soft, the street lamps hanging like lanterns in the distant night.
Crazy Aunt Sarah
By Charlotte Fryar
Crazy Aunt Sarah left the ham burning in the oven
before Easter dinner to take a drive.
She had to get out that damn house,
she said, as my mother pushed
me into the yellow Pinto.
Up and down the wrong side of the Broad River,
she yelled out the window at the wisteria,
calling them damn alcoholics.
In their drunken stupor, they stumbled onto the sober pines,
purple and heavy, drooping and dripping with April rain.
Back to the right side of the river,
past the pocked state capital building,
bruised with Confederate stars,
she leaned out the window and spit on her damn ancestors.
Parallel-parked on a side street,
she gave me a Pall Mall,
and a few facts:
her mother was three different women,
her favorite story is A Hard Man Is Good to Find
and she put something extra special
on the Easter ham this year.
Ode to Hamburger Helper
By Alice Osborn
Come to me my enriched pasta and rice,
packaged cheese and red powdered sauce–
I pull out the milk and water for you
on school nights when the kids
are starving for Beef Pasta or Crunchy Taco.
My husband prays for your buck a box special at Food Lion,
a week of dinners–just kidding–but seriously,
I did you three times a week
when we were first married.
Well-meaning friends demand I open
a cookbook once in a while–
there's way too much salt
and MSG in your gloved Helping Hand boxes,
evoking a certain late pop star.
They tell me to avoid your yellow starches,
cook real pasta and veggies–forego the quick prep.
Run past Aisle 4–"Prepared Foods"–run!
And what the hell are you doing in Food Lion anyway?
They can keep their organic carrots and hand cut pasta;
I've got 27 Box Tops to collect for my son's school.
I blame my mother—oh, I know, but it's true!
She created all from scratch,
spent hours in the kitchen, and nary a Helper or a Kraft
noodle crossed my lips till I was 20.
Like skirts, pendulums swing
and I love your Italian, Chicken and Asian Helpers
over browned lean beef.
I promise not to burn you.
By Sarah Ellis
I live in a box
Full of yellowed papers
And a kitchen half-painted
My little house
Always smells of coffee,
Since tea for one
Is lonely in the morning.
Sometimes I draw the curtains
And crawl in that queen-size bed,
Confessing all my secrets
Beneath our tent of sheets.
If they could bottle you
I would add a slice of lime
And drink you dry,
Like a Holy Communion.
I come home each night
And carry you across the threshold,
And we play hide and seek
From the world outside.
Searching for Scallop Shells
By Terri Kirby Erickson
Searching for scallop shells, my brother and I scoured the beach,
the wind whipping our hair and billowing our white cotton
t-shirts, turning us into salt licks and nearly blowing us down,
we were so small. But we kept at it, our mother's eyes following
us like twin guard dogs as we went along, her whole body
tense and ready to leap from her lounge chair at the slightest
hint of danger, but letting the usual taut line between her and us
go slack to give us the feel of freedom. We carried plastic buckets
and had them half-filled in no time since there were hundreds
of scallop shells among the shells whole and broken,
that had washed ashore since we'd been there. How smooth
they were on the inside against our sand-coated finger tips,
and rough on the outside–and they came in so many colors–
purple, orange, gray, burgundy, calico-shaped just like the Shell
sign at the gas station where our father filled his tank. It was pure joy
to find them, and to know that Grandma was busy cleaning the fish
she'd fry for supper, that soon we'd sit around the rickety table
in our rented cottage with the windows thrown open and the wind
gusting through the bulging screens with such force,
we had to hold our paper napkins tight in our laps–though it seldom
disturbed the shells on every sill, gripping the wood as if there
were still living creatures inside them. And the grown-ups' voices,
the clatter of silverware, the sighs of satisfaction, and the pounding
waves played music for our feast as my brother and I nodded
over plates piled high with buttered corn, beefsteak tomatoes,
fresh-caught spot and pompano. And afterward, tired from the long,
hot day, the salty air and the comfortable cocoon of our family
all around us, it didn't take long to fall asleep, secure and safe–
certain that life would always be sweet, like this.
A View from Paris
By Emily Palmer
A year ago, when Kyle came home from the third grade, dropping the F-bomb, our house became a full-fledged F-Zone. It was fuck this and fuck that, and Mom, where's the fucking Pop Tarts? I joined in, too, but Mom said be quiet, don't use words like that, you're the oldest.
I said it wasn't fair, Parrot was saying it and she was two years younger than me and still eating with her hands.
Mom said that was the point. She didn't know any better. And stop calling your sister, Parrot, Mom added. Her name's Paris, like the city where anything can happen, and I just shook my head. Then Mom spent the rest of the afternoon telling Kyle to stop playing video games and complaining that she had to go back to the grocery, and who'd eaten all the bananas anyway? She'd bought a dozen yesterday, and they were all gone.
I told her Parrot did it, and she said, nonsense, Eliza, don't blame your little sister. Besides, she wouldn't have done it unless she'd seen somebody else do it, and I said maybe Kyle ate some, and she said he must have eaten a lot or Paris would never have gotten it into her head to eat the rest of them.
That's when I turned to Parrot who was sitting by the window, banana in hand. I knew what she was doing. She was always waiting for the paperboy, who wouldn't be here till morning. I couldn't imagine what she found so interesting about him. Every morning she'd be the first one up, just waiting for him to pass by. And then again, when she got home from school and after dinner and right before bed, she'd sit by the window and wait for him, like she expected he'd come around the corner any minute.
Short curly blonde hair plastered to her broad forehead, she looked like a little cherub without wings. Except for her sticky fingers and drooly chin I would have hugged her. Except that I wouldn't have. I hated how she'd look at me with those large deep-set eyes, spaced so far apart. How she'd throw the peeling at my feet and howl with delight. How she laughed at everything and how nothing ever made her cry. Nothing. And so at that moment, as I stooped to pick up the peeling and wipe the banana gunk from my shoes, I really hated her. Not that deep-set brooding kind that sits dull in your gut corroding your innards, just the flashing kind that bursts up hot in your eyes and throat and makes you want to say hurtful things like SLOW and STUPID. Which is what I did. I called her STUPID. I said it three times, "STUPIDSTUPIDSTUPID," all hot and angry and jumbled together. And I told her she'd never do anything first. That she was a born repeater. A puppet of sorts. Like God had her on strings and could make her dance or fall or do all kinds of stupid things like eat a dozen bananas just because her older brother did.
But that was last year. Now I'm the one by the window, banana in hand. Mom says I need to stop torturing myself. Every big sister says things like that, and Paris didn't know half of what I meant. Then she says I need to come away from the window. That was her place, and nobody ever knew what she was looking at anyway.
I know Mom's just saying that. In a year, she's become frazzled and old, with her hair graying at the part and her mascara clumped and smeared around her eyes like she's been crying, which she does all the time now. And Kyle's just yelling, "Fuck you!" at the TV screen.
So I wait till morning. Around 4:30 I get out of bed and tiptoe passed my parents' room. Dad's snoring and Mom's head is turned into the pillow, and I don't hear anything but the soft hum of "I Dream of Jeannie" on the TV that Kyle left on when he fell asleep on the couch with Mom's afghan half-covering him and his legs poking out.
The hardwood floors are cold against the soft soles of my feet, and I whisper run to the nook by the window where Parrot used to sit. And now I can wait and watch to see what she saw.
The morning light is just peeking out peachy-orange and ready to burst. I lean into the window, all frosty and cold, and my breath makes little clouds on the panes, and I think of Heaven and how Parrot – Paris – finally did something first
And the leaves in the trees whisper to one another. And not a car on the road. Just a few birds singing loudly and happy like everything's just the same as it used to be.
And then, I see something dark move past. A paper thumps on our doorstep. And I strain to catch a glimpse of the boy pedaling on now, trying to see what she saw. And then I do. He's riding a unicycle.
By Janice A. Farringer
I'm so grateful the toolbox didn't fall on my toe
That the roof didn't leak in that storm in April
That the dog only had ten puppies and
That the car doesn't absolutely have to have new brakes right this minute
I'm grateful that the grass died so I didn't have to mow so much
That the basement only flooded once
That I kept my fat pants and
That once I get the wall repainted, the grease fire won't even be noticeable
I'm grateful for wind and rain though I could have done without the hurricane
I'm thankful that my blood pressure is down
That my kids didn't kill themselves or others with my car
And that I can sleep in my own bed without all that snoring
By Genevieve Fitzgerald
I beome fascinated
Windswept stunted growth
Shaped and pruned
Proportioned to mimic
Stunted growth bending
Desiccated limbs gray
Standing only inches
Looking less alive
Suggesting some odd
My room fills
The size of
Prunes them to
Witness to wind
Emulating the sad
The arctic bonsai