The thirteenth Moon Prize* goes to Alexis Rhone Fancher's poem "I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling, Contemplating My Death" —backdating to the full moon of September 6, 2017. This poem takes my breath away.
I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling,
Contemplating My Death
by Alexis Rhone Fancher
When I glanced down and saw my body,
the suffering, damaged girl.
My beloved, nowhere to be found
had died on impact.
Now the ER doctors say I can go either way.
So I hover on the Sistine ceiling of the
I.C.U., undecided, my dead lover's
hand reaching for me
like God stretched for Adam.
The tubes and machines that keep me
earthbound give way.
We soar past the hospital morgue,
backtrack the highway, our bodies
unbroken, the crash spliced out.
My mother keens beside my hospital bed,
her fingers tangled in my blood-soaked hair,
picking at pieces of windshield.
Years later I re-trace the road
between death and Santa Barbara,
how he cradled my head in his lap as he drove.
How he didn't want to go with me.
How I always got what I wanted.
All my life, such a greedy girl.
- - - - -
When I was twenty, a highway collision killed my fiancé and my unborn child. I survived only because I was asleep, my head on my fiancé's lap, when the driver of the other vehicle veered into our lane and crashed into us at 70mph. I have tried for years to write about the immediate aftermath. This poem is the first time I got it right.
* * * * *
"I Was Hovering Just Below the Hospital Ceiling, Contemplating My Death" was first published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, http://www.glass-poetry.com/journal/2017/april/fancher-hovering.html
Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (June, 2017). She is published in Best American Poetry, 2016, Rattle, Slipstream, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles, Hobart, Cleaver, and elsewhere. Her photos are published worldwide, including a spread in River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, and The Chiron Review. Since 2013 Alexis has been nominated for 11 Pushcart Prizes and 4 Best of the Net awards. She is Poetry Editor of Cultural Weekly, where she also publishes a monthly photo essay,"The Poet's Eye," about her on-going love affair with Los Angeles.
The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding a full moon. I don't want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For a while I will run a few months behind with this prize—soon I expect to catch up to the current month.
Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.