|| . . . ic æfre ne mæg
þære modceare || minre gerestan . . . .
My heart shall never
suddenly sail into slack water . . . .
—“The Wife’s Lament,” trans. M. Alexander
Should I ever say (after a caesura, mine,
as a consequence of the cutting off, yours),
I will never be able
to rest from my heartache,
please don’t believe my lamentation:
don’t see my life as some sorrowful passage,
one cold, unchanging current in charge,
or imagine me in the midst of the tempest,
seasick in the hapless Sea Venture’s hold.
All stiff tides turn and storms abate.
See? There I stand on the sunny deck
of a different ship, a dive boat
idling in the waters off the Azores.
The tide dissolving to zero speed,
no silt rising from a roiling seabed,
soon I’ll be slipping into slack water.
M.B. Powell of Olympia, Washington, won the $250 Princemere Poetry Prize for "Slack Water." $50 runners-up were Claire Keyes of Marblehead, Massachusetts ("Lines for the Girl in the Blue Jacket") and Allegra Disraeli of Rio Grande City, Texas ("Old Man of Paper"). $25 honorable mentions went to Stephen Swartz of Schenectady, New York ("I Never Got Even One Secret") and Nedra Rogers of Lawrence, Kansas ("I Buy the Dress").