Salamander 2024 Fiction Contest

SUBMIT: May 1 through June 2, 2024 | READING FEE: $15


Singing School Valediction

Ishion Hutchinson
| poetry


A scarlet breeze buoyed him next to us,
his white feather hair a boy’s, giddy and bright
for this, what he called, “the immaculate air.”
It never crossed my mind the wind could be fostered
down to such a casual vision, a taper of crocus
spied through a bubble level. Daily I have
climbed the mound to teach my seminars, some
days I dared look back, pushing the glass door,
at what was reflected in the glass; vermillion
shock of trees, a sky that swims blue and unbroken
with clouds, merging with those brindled hills,
some a wink of gold corona through power lines.
Always I disappeared inside before an eagle fell
from the sun, or whatever was subsequent to sun,
and charged the kids: recite. I listened, distanced.
But now, tuned to his big turnip face, fringed peat
moss sprouts from his ears, blackbird black brows
perked, flicker antennas, pulling from the air
words that filled our small, nervous compass
hearts with the love-harp light he twined between
us, I became a thicket of ears, tensed to engrave,
by instinct, the gradient shifts of his voice
before he scaled the promontory, a kingfisher
hushed back into the chrysalis he sang to us from.

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is a professor at Cornell University and the author of House of Lords and Commons: Poems (FSG, 2016).

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