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Lauren Hennessey Jackson

Honorable Mention: 2015 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100

About this Poet:
Poetry has been a blessing for me ever since my father read The Best Loved Poems of the American People to me on the front porch swing when it was so hot I couldn’t sleep. In high school, Shirley Stevens encouraged me to write poetry and modeled it for me. I currently teach English at Seoul Foreign School and co-advise its literary magazine, The Magpie.

About this Poem:
To inspire The Magpie staff to write poems, I led them in the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” exercise by Jim Simmerman. This poem started from my own attempt.

The Race

Sleep waits for me at the finish line of day
but I decide to sit down just a few yards short
to let the drips of sweat dry in my hair,
to taste the salt on the skin of my arm
and breathe in the moonlight
that floats between sycamore leaves.
Shirley Stevens crossed the stage
in the Quaker Valley High School auditorium
to shake my hand—
I remember that day she sent me out
into the world.
When the bread dough fails to rise,
I consider Schrödinger's emoticon.
Maybe my Klipspringer attitude
is getting in the way.
The clueless idols of leisure sniff their armpits
and wonder where the smell
is coming from.
But I’m not surprised
to find my face damp
and hair dripping. Whatever
my hand finds
to do, I do
with all my might,
following Solomon’s advice,
comforted by his paradoxical wisdom that
the quick ones don’t always win the race.
Somewhere ages and ages hence,
I shall be telling this with a sigh,
just glad that the finish line
has kissed me goodnight,
handing me first
a slice of fresh-baked bread and a mug
of warm, frothy milk.

Copyright ©2015 Lauren Hennessey Jackson