Terri Lynn Cummings
Stars crowned our small prairie town
as crickets and toads whirred and croaked
their warm, summer songs.
We laid on our backs in the meadow’s open sea,
felt the first kiss of sweetgrass,
listened to nature and each other.
Our eyes tracked a satellite
streaming to the other side of the world.
The boy pointed out the Big Dipper,
and I showed him the North Star.
I knew our tug of gravity had nothing
and everything to do with the universe.
Poet’s Notes: A small town’s arms embraced my childhood. In the 1960’s, unlocked doors welcomed neighbors and children day or night. Outer space and rocketry fascinated the fathers who lived on my street. Families gathered together on patios, sprawled on furniture or lawn. We waited for Sputnik satellite to curve over our backyards. I inherited the love of astronomy and the challenge of a new age in space the same time my body changed. Discovery, first love, and the kiss of a universe shaped the words of this poem.
Editor’s Note: I enjoy the special moment preserved here and the peaceful tone. The romantic subtext is exquisitely executed; the longing that summer love will last is easily felt. The imagery here is as clear as a cloudless prairie sky. “Adolescence” was a finalist in the 2017 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.
Comments by Contest Judge Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, PhD: This first line is wonderful, especially juxtaposed with the title. I also like how the first stanza moves quickly to lying “in the meadow's open sea...” and all the listening that follows. This poem is strongest where the poet aims for specifics, such as tracking a satellite or noting the North Star. The ending is compelling because of the combination of nothing and everything.