For this edition, submissions considered “faith” as hope as much as certainty. Whether positing the existence of a god, a future of reso- lution, or a cosmos structured by ultimate goodness or lasting
meaning, poems took measure of the distance between tangible and in-
tangible worlds, the gap widened by myriad disasters — earthquake, hur-
ricane, cancer. Or simply a bird crashing into glass, the subject centering
Amy Nawrocki’s winning entry, “The Uncurtained Window.”
Emily Dickinson famously wrote, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers.”
And wings often symbolize our human insistence on faith — witness the
common release of doves at weddings and funerals. So perhaps it is more
than coincidence that this issue’s winner and runner-up both write of
birds’ presence in our lives.
Runner-up Patricia Clark’s “Faith: Becoming Aquatic” depicts faith
not as escape but as a way of attending fully to the manifest present:
“When the sun emerges, floods out and stays,” the poem advises, “re-
view the birds // of Ireland,” among other affirming endeavors. In-
deed, “do what you can to float with the dagger- / billed grebe, be ex-
Nawrocki’s “The Uncurtained Window” describes a universe “that
will hold believers and unbelievers both.” The stillness of the stunned
bird, the speaker recounts, causes an unidentified woman to imagine that
“part of her / has already buried his hollow bones.” Though the bird ul-
timately rises from the collision, nothing has resolved; though “a wing
unfolds itself from broken” and flight “begins anew,” flight now seems
“so unbearably faithless.” The world, “a Rorschach for the faithful,” re-
— Sandra Meek, poetry editor
Amy Nawrocki’s latest collection of poems, Four Blue Eggs, was published
earlier this month by Homebound Publications. She also has published
three poetry chapbooks with Finishing Line Press and coauthored two
works of nonfiction about Connecticut (its wine and food) through
the History Press. Nawrocki is a senior lecturer in English at University
of Bridgeport, her Phi Kappa Phi chapter. She earned a B.A. in English
from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.F.A. in poetry from University of
Arkansas. Nawrocki won the spring 2012 poetry contest for this magazine and was runner-up
in spring 2011. Email her at email@example.com.
Sandra Meek (Colorado State University) is an award-winning author
of four collections of poems including, most recently, Road Scatter (Persea
Books, 2012). Meek also edited the anthology Deep Travel: Contemporary
American Poets Abroad (Ninebark Press, 2007). She received a 2011 creative
writing fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and
has twice been Georgia Author of the Year. Meek is a cofounding editor
of Ninebark, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, and Dana Professor of
English, Rhetoric and Writing at Berry College.
Attention, poets: The poetry contest is open to active Society members,
published or unpublished. Submissions — one per entrant per issue — should
be up to 40 lines long and must reflect the theme of the edition. One original,
previously unpublished poem is selected for the printed version. Runners-up may
appear online. The summer 2014 theme is “Honor.” Entry deadline is midnight, March 9, only by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For complete rules
and details, go online to www.phikappaphi.org/poetry.
For runner-up Patricia Clark’s poem “Faith: Becoming Aquatic,” go online to
There are a few ways this could go,
a Rorschach for the faithful —
a settlement for the kind of universe
that will hold believers and unbelievers both
and the bird that has crashed
headlong into the uncurtained window.
The impact was audible;
had the glass been less solid, the shattering
would have left them both in shards.
A spilled bird, downy, red-headed, male.
The leaf bed below seems promising, soft,
cushioned. There is no movement.
Between believing and not believing,
there are five careless minutes in which part of her
has already buried his hollow bones
because she’s done this before, seen mobility
feather away into unanswerable dust,
bent her knees and clasped hands
around wounds that did not heal.
Chipmunks carry on,
a titmouse ignores the fallen.
The litany begins:
Is there a shoebox?
Where is the eyedropper? Scissors to cut
the fine mummy fibers of gauze? A toothpick splint?
Between the time it takes to say I hope
and let us undo these finished wishes,
unnecessary hospitals build their own triage:
a wing unfolds itself from broken,
October breezes puff breath into miniature lungs,
legs hop to a steady tree branch, and flight,
so unbearably faithless, begins anew.
By Amy Nawrocki
The Uncurtained Window
in the Soul