2017 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize




Childs Pose

            After the photo of the September 2, 2015 death of 3-year old Alan Kurdi, taken by Nilüfer Demir

Shoes the size of a bar of soap,

and equally waterlogged: what tiny

pieces of leather these are, neatly

side by side. Child’s pose, it’s called,

little rump in the air, hands reaching behind,

cheek to the ground like a young one sleeps

at night.  Alan, do you dream

as the sand embraces you more

with each wave’s lap?  A gentle nest

of apologies. 

No home, behind the boat or in front,

so the water claimed you—it meant to be

peaceful, like a mother’s hand

leading you across a parking lot

to a safer place, where no metal screamed

or bit into anyone, where your surname

could be something other than Kurdi,

other than Other.  Alan, do you dream

of naming every grain of sand

yourself, touching them with your pudgy

toddler fingertips, letting them

swirl in your palm, cupped in a puddle of ocean?

Snuggle into your nest and consider

the vastness of unnamed waters,

your smallness within it.

There will be hands on you, Alan,

pulling you from the water.  They will be

exceedingly gentle.  They will wipe the sand

from your belly, your cheek; they will

replace your soaked clothes with dry.

It will feel as though you are being born

a second time, lifting you from the mellow

rocking you called home for a short while,

and there will be tears.  Someone

will stroke your hair like your mother did,

arranging it into a soft forehead curl

once it dries.  Darling Alan, do you dream

of whose hands will reach for you

as you leave this brackish, littered place

and drift away?



Issa M. Lewis is the author of Infinite Collisions (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and a graduate of New England College’s MFA in Poetry program. She was the 2013 recipient of the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and her poems have previously been published in Mom Egg ReviewTule Review, Jabberwock, Blue Lyra ReviewPearl, and Naugatuck River Review.  She teaches English and Communications at Davenport University.



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