Featured image: “Zion’s Glory” by Linda Hoffman Kimball
Third Place: Haley Ashton
Breakfast, One Week After the Wildfires
Here, in the kitchen’s dark corner,
I huddle with my early riser, her face
puffy with sleep, while over the toaster’s
glowing gaps we clasp hands,
and red coils warm our fingers
like embers, drawing me
There, beyond the news photograph,
in a flame-razed neighborhood of ash,
the black-haired teen in a
red t-shirt cradles his mother’s
damp face to his chest— this their
charred heaps of aluminum siding,
the sun reluctantly rising in a
cinder-choked yellow sky.
Here, the toast springs,
startles the quiet like a campfire
popping in the night, reminding
me of the restless child beside me, and
I butter and thickly jam her slice before mine —
a feeble offering,
but an offering nonetheless,
for them? for her?
to quell some speck of suffering somewhere—
licking from my sticky knuckle
a too sweet strawberry drop.
Haley Ashton is a mother and teacher living in Utah.