Tony Reflects on Form


This poem was selected by Guest Judge Maggie Smith as the 3rd-place winner of the 2023 Rising Poet Prize.

I returned to it in belief

that as I was eaten, I was known

and not only tasted. I worked

my angles like a good girl. Kneeling,

retrieving the trinket

from under the bed. A famous

someone had famously

been here before. Gold

leaf caught the candlelight,

flicker of god. Animal

hide stretched thin, cured.

Take the hair away, take the flesh,

give it water, take water

away in turns while scraping

it clean with the knife, shape

of the crescent moon, until

pulled taut, just thick enough

to illustrate. An army

handles the material before it’s right.

Parchminer, scribe, miniaturist;

I got smaller, got more

marginalia. It took so long

to train me, I was hardly there

by the time I was gone.

Mia Kang