"Lovers" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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Shuly X. Cawood, Chapel Hill

"I have relatives in Mexico on my mother's side, so our cultural differences were an inspiration for this poem," says Shuly Cawood. "I have written a lot of poetry about my travels to visit that side of the family and the brief period of my life when I lived with them." Judge Jane Mead was impressed by the metaphors in "Lovers," which she said were accomplished with great skill. "One envisions the places in this poem," Mead says. "The imagery resonates on the level of idea. This poet's descriptive powers are considerable."

Cawood says she is not influenced by any particular writer, but she admires poets Jane Hirschfield, Jacqueline Osherow and Margaret Atwood. "My father has been an inspiration because he's a writer," she says. Her dad, now retired, was the editorial page editor for the Dayton Daily News in Ohio. Cawood is originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio. She moved to the Triangle in 1998 and works at the Women's Center in Chapel Hill, as associate director of career and financial programs. She has published poems in the journals Moving Out and The Pegasus Review.

Cawood is currently working on a book with her father that she expects to be a combination of fiction and poetry. "We have talked about writing together for a long time," she says. "Now we finally have the chance."


When we visit my tia
my aunt in Torreón
I sleep in the house,
the garden like a green moat
around white stucco walls.

She gives me a king-size bed,
and I doze off on one side and awaken
on the other of this gold-comforter


Beyond the lemon tree and yard,
he sleeps in a twin bed with two blankets
in the room off the garage where she sews,

her measuring tapes like yellow snakes,
and her laces, chiffons, silks
bundled on the table and every bit of chair.
She's cleared a space
on just one shelf
for his bag.

He awakens to the swish
of her old bride dress
hanging loose and thin
from a black wire hanger,
its sleeves dusting walls
in the breeze.

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