What follows are winning entries from the Sixth Annual Yule Love It Lavender Farm Poetry Contest. The theme for the 2021 contest was “The color of summer.”

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First Place: Jack D. Ferguson of Auburn Hills

“To Draw a Rainbow”

Pink florescence unfurls.
The tight loop, freed by arthritic hands
blue with cold, tickles the tannin-stained stream.
An old man imagines his grandson alongside, and together,
by his hand, teaches him to read the tributary waters they wade.

He watches. Gazes upon the opposite bank
awash in saffron nettles that sting exposed wrists and sees…
beyond the cattails, below the hemlock,
the cherry red of wake robin planted
beside a root beer float river
ripe with browns, brookies, coasters
and once, not so long ago, grayling.

In the dappled splash of apricot sun
an olive deceiver disappears. The tightness
of line revives the essence within.
Hand over hand, his rosary recited in solitude.

Here, in a place sacred to no-see-ums,
swarms of bronze mosquitoes and cobalt dragonflies,
he bows, net in hand, amidst a jubilee tabernacle
of plum and purple shadows and vows:
The boy will learn to draw a rainbow from the river.

Second Place: Christian Belz of Pontiac

“The Fun Season”

In youth, I thought of summer
as a 3-D kaleidoscope
filled with colored, scented
gemstones reflected six ways.
Emerald green cartwheels across the lawn,
fresh-cut grass tickled our noses
and stuck to bare feet.
Orange push-ups, freeze tag, we giggled
mad dash around the yard,
while tongues strained to un-stick
lips and fingers.
Sapphire blue pool, we swam circles,
splashed chlorine tinged water
as lips turned purple ’til mom wrapped
us in beach towels, poured sweet lemonade.
Tin-copper sips from the garden hose,
moonstone grey days, fickle rain,
sitting in faded jeans on damp
wicker chairs by the smoky fire.
A slight turn of Michigan’s kaleidoscope,
the gems that were our summer days
would reset to another prismatic slice
of rainbow joy.

Third Place: Mary Lanphier of Royal Oak

“True North”

Do we have a language for the world of green
A synesthesia of the scent of pine
The gossip of poplars
Or fresh mown grass
The deep beauty of ferns giving depth
To the dusk of a forest’s edge

Every morning I watch
The fire of the Sun
Rise from his bed in a cobalt lake
Scattering diamonds across the waters
A gift, the heat of a summer day
The forever blue of the sky

Each August and usually in July
I paint my toes
That particular shade of tangerine
It glows against my summer tan
Framed by the shreds of faded jeans
Last year’s white sandals

Is there a word for purple
Where the sunset fades to dusk
Where berries stain our fingertips
Is magenta an electric name for hibiscus
Faces raised to the Sun
Bursting yellow at their hearts

Does the chorus of insects
Sing me to sleep
As the coals of my campfire
Glow red
Beneath a gentle blanket of smoke

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.