Award Winners

Robert H. Winner Memorial Award - 2022

Didi Jackson


Andrea Jurjević

Two Mule Deer

walked past my window
this morning —female

I think, no antlers,
as the day-moon pressed

like a faded thumbprint
into the bare back

of the Santa Cruz Mountains
and the meadow of wild rye

and wand buckwheat rocked
in the new light;

all hide and eyes and hunger
moving with caution and blaze.

Is there a coming of good?
As if their path was already decided,

I watched them step into the day,
black tail tipped and wide eared.

So much of what I want
isn’t even about me.

Yesterday, a friend said
the sight of deer means danger

is clear. No coyote
or mountain lions nearby.

Still, I remember
what it feels like

to be a sidewalk,
a sudden girl

tamped down
at an all-night party,

fingered then dropped
by a boy who will

be dishonorably discharged
from the Army

only two years later.
You know how it feels

wanting to walk into
the rain and disappear

While hiking,
a photographer found

two deer legs
about one hundred feet apart.

Cloven hooves and dewclaws
intact. Adapted for fleeing

predators. Left by a hunter.
We are only what we are.

Don’t pity me.
A slight steam rises

from the backs of the deer
as they move past

the black oaked edge
into the white light

lifting their eyes
to the tree line,

then to my window,
then to the sky,

hooves striking the ground
over and over

like the syllables
of a low staccato voice.

Poem was previously published in Kenyon Review.

Traci Brimhall on Didi Jackson

The poems in Didi Jacksons' submission are a study in the Simone Weil quote “absolute attention is prayer.” They are gorgeously wrought, but they also make my mind sit up straighter. Each one pulled me back to re-read, savor, and think alongside. Smart, surprising, and deeply attentive, this book is one I can’t wait to hold in my hands someday.