This poem won Editor's Mom's Choice in the 2014 2-Day Poem Contest

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like

as to put to rout all that was not life–

—Henry David Thoreau

for a grandson, unborn


A house in a ‘shoebox’: pitched roof, gable ends,

breeze through a tiny window teasing the snowy

Priscillas. Unseated buses, tool sheds: versions

of a child’s first drawing. It’s learning the tricks,

owners say. Tables that fold, unfold into beds;

a spice rack slid out with a switch. A single place

for books, clothespins, rubber boots. Precious

sleight of hand.


My first house was a Hudson Bay blanket draped

over living room chairs. Crouched in a cramp

of yellow red green, my flashlight unlocked shadows:

lamplight into moon. Yip and howl of the neighbour’s

dog: a putative wolf. My brothers’ flailing limbs

in tag-team tussle shot out lightning, eerie timbres

in the deep-woods night.


Breathe the air, drink the drink, Thoreau says.

You have taught me. We were told, probably,

you would not survive; your liquid barge too small,

come loose from its moorings. But I have seen you –

booster view from the ultra-sound wand – arms

and legs unfolding, folding in. As if you imagined

this; spied beyond prediction a bucket, a length

of rope.

Published online June 30 2014.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.