The Forum Prize
Spring 2007
Dennis Ward Stiles

Old Man

He imagines a woman.
Her face is clear. She stirs some soup
and hums to distant children.
Who is she? Why does he know her?

He sees a bird
with beautiful colors
like fall leaves come to life.
He cannot remember
the name of that bird.

Thousands of books
and movies drift
through his mind.
Their titles have vanished
along with their stars.

He sees flowers and trees
but never a beech or an oak
a violet or daisy.

The old man picks up a stick
and carefully breaks its back.

The winds of life have brought him
to a place where words
that once appeared and danced
slow and naked for him
when he called

now fly like fickle swallows
too fast to trace
and crisscross in confusion’s air
before they settle into nests
just out of sight.
©2007 Dennis Ward Stiles