2017 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize Runner-Up

Child’s Pose

             After the photo of the September 2, 2015 death of 3-year old Alan Kurdi, taken by Nilüfer Demir

Shoes the size of a bar of soap,
and equally waterlogged: what tiny
pieces of leather these are, neatly
side by side. Child’s pose, it’s called,
little rump in the air, hands reaching behind,
cheek to the ground like a young one sleeps
at night. Alan, do you dream
as the sand embraces you more
with each wave’s lap? A gentle nest
of apologies.

No home, behind the boat or in front,
so the water claimed you—it meant to be
peaceful, like a mother’s hand
leading you across a parking lot
to a safer place, where no metal screamed
or bit into anyone, where your surname
could be something other than Kurdi,
other than Other. Alan, do you dream
of naming every grain of sand
yourself, touching them with your pudgy
toddler fingertips, letting them
swirl in your palm, cupped in a puddle of ocean?
Snuggle into your nest and consider
the vastness of unnamed waters,
your smallness within it.

There will be hands on you, Alan,
pulling you from the water. They will be
exceedingly gentle. They will wipe the sand
from your belly, your cheek; they will
replace your soaked clothes with dry.
It will feel as though you are being born
a second time, lifting you from the mellow
rocking you called home for a short while,
and there will be tears. Someone
will stroke your hair like your mother did,
arranging it into a soft forehead curl
once it dries. Darling Alan, do you dream
of whose hands will reach for you
as you leave this brackish, littered place
and drift away?

Issa M. Lewis is the author of Infinite Collisions (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and a graduate of New England College’s MFA in Poetry program. She was the 2013 recipient of the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and her poems have previously been published in Mom Egg ReviewTule Review, Jabberwock, Blue Lyra ReviewPearl, and Naugatuck River Review.  She teaches English and Communications at Davenport University.