2nd Prize: Robin Houghton


When the last twig-wing snaps
you ask to be fed. Just this:
one single gape so wide it turns

your pale head inside-out
and threatens to burst blood
until every thread of moss

and every egg in the tree
foresees defeat. You demand
more worms and I must feed

you from first note to last
murmuration. I am tired, leaf-
thin, not broken-spirited

but warted by time and canker
like the oaks’ awkward elbows.
I slow-hop, my heart is shrunk

to a breadcrumb. You were given
to us and we couldn’t resist
your singular strangeness.

I would do the same again,
despite the reason you went bad –
a glitch in the mothering.