The Francis Ponge Prize for Poetry Winning Poem

The Potato
by Dara Elerath

The potato is afraid of light and movement. It would like to stay hidden forever, fattening slowly in its soft cocoon of soil. Its life is a life of sleep—do not begrudge it this simple existence. It is kin to stone in shape and nature, but softness betrays it. If a worm, seeking moisture, tunnels through, the potato, uneasy, says nothing. Its eyes are scars, they do not shift or lift their lids to note the damage; they do not try to understand. This misshapen lantern dangling from roots has no wish to illuminate anything at all. It is no use unearthing the potato before its time. The vegetable goes slowly. It does not tremble at the pressure of feet aboveground. It does not pray picturing the spade or the farmer’s rough, indifferent gloves. Rain falls, sun shines—the potato does not miss these things. Sweetness pours in through its stem, smoothing, straightening the brown paper of its skin.

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