It was a slow week. My husband broke his arm. I struggled like an ox with a poem. At about 91F on Friday, we had the hottest day of the year, alleviated by rain. Germany's circumcision debate continued to brew, the Olympics started, and my daughter returned from a camping trip in the south of France.
Yesterday I won the GoodReads poetry contest with Dictionary Illustrations. Every month the site's largest poetry group holds a contest that gets about 200 entries. This was the seventh time I entered and the fourth time I won (over about 4 years). I thought I'd had this poem up on the blog before, but I guess I only posted about it. The seed of it is here. It's also in Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair.
Searching for a word I set off
browsing the dictionary illustrations,
pages flush with fish
and obscure instruments and myriad
breeds of duck, which, colorless,
end up looking much the same.
These artists don’t dawdle
amongst the obvious; they illuminate
the oriel window; they trace
the lobate foot of the grebe.
The reindeer appears tame and boxy
on paper, gigantic antlers bearing
the weight of reincarnation.
On page 1291, drawings disambiguate
the difference between paly
and paly-bendy, two patterns of heraldry:
think roadblock versus barbershop, TV
off-air image versus LSD.
They don’t do verbs in dictionary pictures,
so for zip here’s an inch-wide depiction
of two men intent on fencing.
In one two-page arrangement,
the seahorse floats peacefully beyond
the reach of the scythe. Pen-and-ink
sketches break the columns up
like little windows opening
from one side of the brain
to the other. Tiptoe through, and pay
attention to the shapes of leaves,
which can be hard to describe.